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State of Tennessee Partnering to Protect Fiery Gizzard Trail System

 

State Lands Acquisition Fund, Private Donations, Critical to Conservation Efforts

Nashville, TN – Governor Phil Bredesen and Department of Environment and Conservation Commissioner Jim Fyke announced today the third phase of an effort to protect a critical recreation and conservation area adjacent to South Cumberland State Park in Grundy and Marion counties, known as Fiery Gizzard. 

The state of Tennessee has committed approximately $4 million to acquire a threatened 2,900-acre portion of the Fiery Gizzard Trail and viewshed, which is part of a larger campaign to protect 6,200 acres. In addition to the state’s contribution, conservation groups are working to raise $2.1 million needed to complete the transaction.

Fiery Gizzard

Fiery Gizzard

“Fiery Gizzard is nationally recognized for recreation, and threatened by development,” said Bredesen. “By leveraging resources to preserve this land, we will be able to both protect the breathtaking scenery and important ecological features at the site for future generations, as well as continue to draw visitors to South Cumberland State Park, enhancing tourism and the local economy in one of Tennessee’s rural areas.”

The majority of the state’s funding comes from the State Lands Acquisition Fund. This year the Governor proposed and the General Assembly approved re-establishing the SLAF using a portion of the Real Estate Transfer Tax.  The state’s commitment also includes federal funding from the Land and Water Conservation Fund and a portion of a federal grant.

The Land Trust for Tennessee and The Conservation Fund, supported by the Friends of South Cumberland, are partners with the state to raise private dollars to complete the 6,200-acre phase of the project. The total project cost is $8.1 million – $4 million from the state, $2.1 million in private fundraising and $2 million from the expected sale of part of the property to a conservation buyer.

Friends of South Cumberland State Park“The purchase of the Fiery Gizzard tract at South Cumberland preserves both the trail and the viewshed into the future,” said Fyke.  “This opportunity won’t come along again. We appreciate all the efforts of our conservation partners, and particularly want to recognize the late Marvin Runyon, a long-time member of the Friends of South Cumberland State Park, who was instrumental in securing nearly $2 million in federal grant funding to initiate this series of acquisitions.”

The Fiery Gizzard Trail is managed by South Cumberland State Park, though most of the trail and viewshed have historically been privately owned. The area has been a priority for conservation as the land becomes available. Upon the completion of phase three, the state’s total investment in Fiery Gizzard since 2003 will be $6.2 million in SLAF and federal funding, resulting in the acquisition of 4,559 acres. In all, including phase three, the state and conservation partners’ commitment at Fiery Gizzard will protect a grand total of 9,779 contiguous acres.

The Fiery Gizzard Trail has been ranked as one of the top 25 backpacking trails in the country by Backpacker magazine. The 17-mile trail features streams, waterfalls, rocky gorges and spectacular panoramic views. For more information about the trail or South Cumberland State Park, visit the website at www.tnstateparks.com/SouthCumberland.

To learn more about the Fiery Gizzard campaign, visit www.fierygizzard.org.


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