Conservation Easement Forever Protects A Half-Mile Of Land Along Obed River

  • Wednesday, October 5, 2022
Bill & Joy Morgan
Bill & Joy Morgan
TennGreen Land Conservancy announced Wednesday the donation of a conservation easement on 32 acres along the Obed River in Cumberland County. Bill & Joy Morgan of Crossville partnered with TennGreen Land Conservancy to place the easement on the land to protect its species-rich waters and forests for generations to come.

The Morgan's land includes approximately a half-mile of frontage along the Obed River, about three miles upstream of the section designated as a "Wild and Scenic" river.
The land, known as "Obed Point," falls within a TennGreen Land Conservancy Priority Focal Area and the Catoosa/Emory Conservation Opportunity Area identified in Tennessee's State Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP). The protection of this property aligns with SWAP goals by increasing forested acres and river miles permanently protected to benefit rare species. With the conservation easement in place, timber harvest, mineral extraction, and further development will be restricted on the land in perpetuity.

"My wife and I love our property and are in awe of its unique natural beauty," said landowner, Bill Morgan. "Because of this, we chose to preserve its many remarkable features with a conservation easement in hopes that the land will pass on to future generations of owners who will love and maintain it as we do." 

Conserving properties like Obed Point is vital to protecting water quality and aquatic habitat in the Obed River watershed. The Obed River is Tennessee's only stream designated as "Wild and Scenic" and is managed by the National Park Service. There are six public access areas for kayaking, rafting and whitewater paddling, but many sections along the Obed are not for novice paddlers.

In addition to its 1976 "Wild and Scenic" designation, the International Dark Sky Association designated the Obed River as an International Dark Sky Park in 2017—one of only two NPS areas in Tennessee with this designation. IDSPs are land possessing an exceptional or distinguished quality of starry nights and a nocturnal environment that's specifically protected for its scientific, natural, educational, cultural heritage and/or public enjoyment. Thanks to the completion of the Obed Point conservation easement, light pollution will be limited to ensure outdoor enthusiasts can continue enjoying the area's starry nights.

Conservation easements are voluntary, legal agreements designed to forever protect important natural resources from harmful land practices. By conserving a property with a conservation easement, landowners can preserve their vision for the land and also create a lasting legacy.

"We first became aware of TennGreen Land Conservancy and its expertise in protecting our state's waterways and habitats after a presentation by Christie Henderson, TennGreen's Director of Land Conservation," said Mr. Morgan. "During the conservation easement process, we especially enjoyed walking our property with Kristen Hanratty, TennGreen's Conservation Project Manager, who facilitated the timely completion of the easement on our land. We encourage others considering an easement to work with TennGreen Land Conservancy."

The Obed Point conservation success marks TennGreen Land Conservancy's fourteenth completed project in Cumberland County and adds to more than 11,000 acres conserved in the area by the organization. Other successes in Cumberland County include TennGreen Land Conservancy's permanent protection of Devilstep Hollow Cave and land along Whites and Piney Creek, as well as the conservation of key connections along the Cumberland Trail, like at Black Mountain and Brady Mountain, Grassy Cove, along the Emory River and more.

"We're proud to have partnered with the Morgans to permanently protect their rich and scenic property along the Obed River," said Alice Hudson Pell, interim executive director of TennGreen Land Conservancy. "Conserving land along Tennessee's waterways is important for our economy, our social well-being, and the health of our communities. Protecting our lands and landscapes ensures us—and future generations—places to swim and paddle, and enables our fish and wildlife to thrive. The Obed Point conservation easement will protect the quality of these important waters and support our vibrant ecosystems for years to come."

For more information about this project or TennGreen conservation easements, visit tenngreen.org, call 615-329-4441, or email land@tenngreen.org.  

Obed Point
Obed Point
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