After almost three decades of discussions, Edwards Point on Signal Mountain is now protected land after the Tennessee River Gorge Trust (TRGT) purchased 32 acres making up that mountain landmark. The Stocker and Arnold Family have owned the land for years, and the sale will ensure that the property will not be developed.
“We’ve been talking to the family for 32 years, and they reached back out to us eight years ago and we’ve continued to have that conversation.
We closed this summer,” TRGT executive director Rick Huffines said. “Not hardly a day goes by in a year where somebody doesn’t stand up there on that point and enjoy that view. People travel there all the time.”
During the Tuesday morning announcement on Baylor’s campus, Mr. Huffines thanked the Tucker Foundation, which gave $300,000 to help make the purchase. He later said the TRGT is a grassroots organization that does not get government funding, and asked for people to donate on the TRGT’s website.
“The landowners didn’t restrict people from coming to the property, but they had the right to sell it to a developer or whomever they chose to,” Mr. Huffines said. “Homes could have been built there and people would not have had the ability to access it anymore.”
He spoke at length about the role the Tennessee River Gorge plays in Hamilton and Marion County having clean air and water. Mr. Huffines said that is a primary reason why protecting the land is important to the TRGT.
“This forest is a great big carbon dioxide remover. It takes it from the atmosphere, sequesters it in the woods, and releases oxygen in the environment, which gives us clean air,” the executive director said.
“One of the things we pride ourselves on is knowing what we own is healthy, and we use science to inform our stewardship. We do a lot of research and work with birds, because birds are an indicator species that show the overall health of the forest. We do water quality sampling to make sure the river is clean and clear, and look for anything that we should alert the local authorities about,” he added.
In addition to the 32 acres purchased at Edwards Point, the TRGT also purchased 40 acres nearby and midway up Signal Mountain. Mr. Huffines pointed to the mountain behind him and said the TRGT now protects about 18,000 of the 27,000 acres that make up the gorge.
“We’re not opposed to people living in the gorge and we’re not an anti-development organization,” Mr. Huffines said. “We just know there are places we hold dear, where we can come for solace and having peace and open space. We also see the value in having clean water and clean air, which this protects and provides.
“We encourage all people to come out and enjoy it, and we want to be an inclusive and accessible place for all people."