Two historically significant Georgetown area farms, bordering Hamilton and Meigs counties and along the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail, will be conserved for future generations after the landowners signed conservation easements with The Land Trust for Tennessee.
The Circle V Farm of Greg Vital and Deerstone Farm of David and Kathy Gooch will serve as cornerstones of an effort to conserve open land in the growing corridor along Highway 60, it was announced by The Land Trust, a nonprofit, non-government organization that works with landowners to conserve the historic, scene and natural values of their land.
The Circle V and Deerstone farms represent more than 220 acres of open farm, forest and grassland in an area that is rapidly facing increased residential and commercial development.
Both farms front Highway 60, part of the driving portion of the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail, which runs through Tennessee from Charleston to Clarksville in Middle Tennessee.
“As adjoining property owners, Greg and David share a vision of the future of their land; that their farms will forever provide the scenic vistas that are so much a part of this area in our state.
“The Land Trust is proud to partner with these men and their families to ensure that this area keeps its historic and agricultural nature. We all recognize how important open spaces will always be to the quality of life in the Greater Chattanooga area,” said Jean C. Nelson, president and executive director of The Land Trust for Tennessee.
Gooch was prompted to engage The Land Trust after watching both the cities of Chattanooga and Cleveland undergo continual development, threatening the future of the land surrounding his 136-acre farm. Several hundred feet of Gunstock Creek runs by Gooch’s land, a creek identified as significant for its natural and scenic quality.
“From its successful efforts in Middle Tennessee, The Land Trust has the experience working with communities to bring together neighboring landowners who want to conserve their property. We also found their expertise in dealing with farmland to be invaluable as we moved towards a conservation easement,” said Gooch.
The 85-acre Circle V Farm, owned by healthcare property entrepreneur Greg Vital, was selected as the Hamilton County Farm of the Year by the Natural Resource Conservation Service in 2000 for its wildlife enhancement features. Vital is known as a leading advocate of the preservation of historic buildings in downtown Chattanooga. He wanted to protect his historic landscape of rolling farmland and historic rock walls in Georgetown.
“As Chattanooga’s growth moves northward signified by the lost of farmland to subdivisions, David and I want to lead by example – to show our neighbors and others in this region that we need to act now to preserve and protect our natural resources – and to make sure that the next generations can experience what’s very special about this part of our region,” said Vital.
Nelson said the two farms represent a significant step in promoting land conservation over development in the Greater Chattanooga area.
“David Gooch and Greg Vital were determined to make sure these acres remain open spaces – and that these hills and valleys, so emblematic of this region, remain for generations to enjoy and appreciate,” Nelson said. “Thanks to the leadership of David and Greg, we can now educate landowners in these counties that there are options to development and important tracts throughout the region can be saved through the process of conservation easements.”
For several years, The Land Trust has operated an office in the nearby Sequatchie Valley and South Cumberland areas, and the move into the Greater Chattanooga area is a natural service-area extension for the organization. The education and outreach efforts are supported with funds from Lyndhurst and Benwood Foundations, along with additional support from the community.
“The Land Trust works only in communities where landowners invite us to help them determine the best way to save their land,” Nelson said. “We work with neighborhoods and communities to make sure that good growth and good conservation of special lands go hand in hand. With a series of enhanced Federal tax incentives in place for 2007, we are ready to help landowners in the region make their own personal statements about conserving the land throughout southeastern Tennessee.”
About Permanent Conservation Easements
A conservation easement is a voluntary agreement between a property owner and a nonprofit land trust where the land owner places permanent restrictions on the use of the property. These restrictions are legally binding on the current landowner and any subsequent owner of the land. Under a conservation easement, the landowner still owns the property and can use it, sell it, or leave it to heirs, but the restrictions of the easement stay with the land forever.
About The Land Trust for Tennessee
The Land Trust for Tennessee is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) charitable organization, founded in 1999. Its mission is to preserve the unique character of Tennessee’s natural and historic landscapes for future generations and, to date, has protected nearly 17,000 acres of land. The Land Trust works with willing landowners to find ways to preserve forever the historic, scenic and natural values of their land. More information is available at www.landtrusttn.org.