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State Protecting Skinner Mountain From Future Development

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
State Protecting Skinner Mountain From Future Development

Over 11,000 acres of economically and ecologically important land at Skinner Mountain will be protected from development.

The national non-profit organization The Conservation Fund purchased the land for permanent protection through conservation easements.

Tennessee Division of Forestry Spokesperson Tim Phelps said this area in Overton and Fentress Counties were highly threatened by development. Phelps said that now, the natural resources will stay put for use and enjoyment.

“One of the primary economic drivers is forestry,” Phelps said. “That is the procurement of wood, extraction of wood from the forest into products we use in our everyday lives. The Skinner Mountain project in particular, has some very high value hardwoods.”

Phelps said this land will remain in private hands. Phelps said the only development that can happen in the area would be an interpretive center, highlighting the historic Wilder Mining Community that once operated in the area.

“No matter who owns the property, no matter if that property exchanges hands in the future to another entity, that conservation easement will remain,” Phelps said. “Which makes it available to active forest management but it also protects certain areas within that easement from (timber) harvesting. So those areas where the bats need to roost, where they feed, where they mate, certainly anywhere in close proximity to those caves there won’t be any harvesting.”

Phelps said time was pressing to get this area protected. Phelps said this was ranked third for forest legacy projects.

“Right around this area, there are three other developments already in place with about 600 lots, immediately adjacent,” Phelps said. “It is seen for its recreation value. It is considered at a high threat for conversion to development, so that’s why it was listed so highly and funded.”

Phelps said the work to protect this land started in 2017, however it takes several years to work through the process to get protection through easements. In total, 11.723 acres of forestland will be conserved.


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