The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) has acquired 125 acres in Marion County as an addition to the Sequatchie Cave State Natural Area, a step that will increase the size of the natural area by 1,000 percent.
The state purchased the land from Drs. Jim and Sherry Turner of Hattiesburg, Miss., with transactional support and assistance from The Land Trust for Tennessee.
The acquisition expands the state natural area from 12 acres to 137 acres.
“This is a dramatic addition to the Sequatchie Cave State Natural Area,” said Roger McCoy, director of the Division of State Natural Areas. “We are grateful to our partners at The Land Trust who helped make this acquisition possible, and we look forward to preserving this site.”
Sequatchie Cave is a biologically significant area located where Owen Spring Branch flows from the mouth of the cave. The cave and its cold spring water support three federally and state-listed animal species, three other species of state concern, and many other aquatic and cave species. It is one of two sites where the federally endangered Royal Snail is known in the world. Both are in Marion County. This is also the site where the rare Sequatchie Caddisfly was first described. The caddisfly is reported only from three other spring-fed streams, all in Marion County.
“The Land Trust for Tennessee is honored to support this significant expansion of Sequatchie Cave State Natural Area,” said Emily Parish, vice president of conservation for The Land Trust for Tennessee. “Conserving this site is not only important for the protection of wildlife; it offers increased opportunities for locals and visitors to experience and enjoy the natural area.”
The state natural area is a former Tennessee Department of Transportation roadside park and was later managed by Marion County and its county highway department before it was designated a state natural area in 2001. While the public still enjoys the roadside park, the Division of Natural Areas manages the site for the benefit of the rare species that occur in Owen Spring Branch. The cold spring water supply at Owen Spring is in part why the unincorporated community of Sequatchie was first settled.
The Division of Natural Areas is dedicated to the protection and proper management of native plants, animals, and natural communities across Tennessee. Along with managing a statewide system of natural areas, the Division of Natural Areas is a lead authority regarding the location and ecology of Tennessee’s rare species. For more information about Sequatchie Cave, visit https://www.tn.gov/content/tn/environment/program-areas/na-natural-areas/natural-areas-middle-region/middle-region/na-na-sequatchie-cave.html.