Denny Cove: A Testament to Collaborative Conservation

Denny Falls. Photo Credit: Access Fund

Get ready to climb. Denny Cove is officially part of the South Cumberland State Park.

Located about 30 minutes outside of Chattanooga, this 685-acre tract of undeveloped land sits between two popular climbing destinations, Foster Falls and Castle Rock.

Over the last six years, numerous conservation partners have worked tirelessly to protect Denny Cove’s specular views, world-renowned climbing routes and critical plant and wildlife habitat.

And on Friday, March 17, 2017 the partners, including The Land Trust for Tennessee, gathered within the woods to celebrate South Cumberland State Park’s acquisition of the wild landscape.

“The protection of Denny Cove’s resilient, scenic and recreational landscape is a testament to a truly collaborative conservation effort,” said Liz McLaurin, president and CEO of The Land Trust for Tennessee. “We are grateful to work alongside such dedicated conservation partners to conserve this wild and important piece of the South Cumberland region.”

Protecting Denny Cove: A Testament to Community Conservation

Protecting Denny Cove took a multi-year, multi-partner effort which began with initial conversations back in 2011.

With support from The Land Trust for Tennessee and The Conservation Fund, a group of partners led by Access Fund and Southeastern Climbers Coalition purchased the property from a private timber owner for permanent protection and climbing access in July 2016, and the State acquired the land in December 2016. On March 17, 2017, project partners gathered to celebrate the addition of Denny Cove to South Cumberland State Park.

And as many who took part in the conservation effort attested during the celebration, it was a challenging and rewarding effort. As Access Fund Southeast Regional Director Zachary Lesch-Huie described, “It’s like getting to the end of a really long, arduous climb.”

“Those young folks down there, some day, will be adults with kids and grandkids,” said Ralph Knoll, the Tennessee representative for The Conservation Fund. “Everyone up here had a hand in protecting this property. The folks down there may not understand that today, but they’ll have kids and grandkids coming out here 40 or 50 years from now and this property will still be here and available. We should all give ourselves a pat on the back for making that happen.”

The extensive list of partners includes: The Conservation Fund, Access FundLyndhurst FoundationSoutheastern Climbers Coalition, Friends of South Cumberland State Park, Open Space Institute, The Conservation Alliance, Riverview Foundation, Tennessee State Land Acquisition Fund, Tennessee Heritage Conservation Fund, Stone Summit Climbing and Fitness, Triple Crown Bouldering Series, High Point Climbing and Fitness, and River Rocks.

Watch the video from Access Fund released in September 2016 for more information about this effort.

Future Plans & “Denny Days”

Over the last few months, volunteers and multiple organizations have been working nearly every weekend to make site improvements at Denny Cove, including adding an access road and gravel parking lot. Now, the area is open Saturdays and Sundays with plans to expand in the near future. But the work is not yet complete.

Future plans for the site include doubling the number of climbing routes, building restrooms, offering back country camping, and continuing trail development.

If you are interested in lending a hand to support the trail, you can join the State park staff and volunteers on weekends for Denny Days with current work focusing on trail construction.

You can sign up to help via Friends of South Cumberland State Park.

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