The U.S. Forest Service and the YMCA of Metropolitan Chattanooga on Tuesday announced the protection of 160 acres of forested land and two high quality tributaries of the Ocoee River, the headwaters of Indian Creek and Hawkins Branch. The conservation acquisition was made possible with funding from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund and with grants from both The Lyndhurst Foundation and The Riverview Foundation.
A YMCA surplus parcel surrounded by National Forest land was purchased by the Forest Service from YMCA of Metropolitan Chattanooga. Proceeds from the land sale will directly support the YMCA’s Capital Campaign for improvements to Camp Ocoee, located on Parksville Lake. The sale resulted in a direct contribution of $200,000 to the Campaign.
“Over the past 94 years, YMCA Camp Ocoee has become known for its legacy of enriching lives,” said Janet Dunn, president and CEO of the YMCA of Metropolitan Chattanooga.
“The value YMCA Camp Ocoee brings to the community, along with the close relationship we have with the U.S. Forest Service, makes this sale a win-win. Thanks to the involvement of The Lyndhurst and Riverview Foundations, we were able to cross the finish line with this."
The conservation project was selected as part of a national, agency-wide competitive and merit-based process within the U.S. Forest Service, which prioritized the project for 2017 LWCF ‘Critical Inholdings’ funding. U.S. Senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker supported Tennessee’s request for LWCF funding and helped secure the Congressional appropriations for the program. LWCF is a bipartisan, federal program that has used a percentage of proceeds from offshore oil and gas royalties—not taxpayer dollars—to acquire critical lands and protect the country’s best natural resources for more than 50 years.
“This property adds an additional 160 acres to Cherokee National Forest within the very important and popular Ocoee River watershed,” said JaSal Morris, forest supervisor. “By acquiring this total ‘inholding’, land management efforts will become more efficient, and cost effective. We are also pleased to support the YMCA’s community-based mission.” The land will be open for public use and enjoyment.
“This project addresses the foundations’ mutual interests in conserving wildlife and forested and aquatic habitats,” said Bruz Clark, president of the Lyndhurst Foundation and executive director of the Riverview Foundation. “It will also benefit the public in numerous ways by enhancing two of our region’s greatest assets – Camp Ocoee and the Cherokee National Forest. We are grateful to the U.S. Forest Service and the YMCA for this partnership and also want to thank Senators Alexander and Corker for their continued support of LWCF, which is so critical in leveraging foundation support for conservation here and across the country.”