Photo Credit: Coal Creek Farm
Cumberland County

Coal Creek Farm

PROJECT PARTNERS George Lindemann, Panther Creek Forestry, and National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Southeastern Grasslands Initiative, University of Tennessee at Knoxville’s Center for Native Grasslands Management

During 2018 and 2019, TennGreen worked with a private landowner to enhance conservation habitat on his 5,200-acre farm and forest. The property contains the headwaters of Whites Creek and abuts the Karst Forest at Grassy Cove, part of the Justin P. Wilson Cumberland Trail. Restoration efforts included treatment of more than 4,000 hemlocks for wooly adelgid, planting of more than 45,000 shortleaf pine seedlings, and establishment of more than 800 acres of early successional habitat.

The Cumberland Plateau itself once supported extensive shortleaf pine savannas and prairie habitat. However, we have lost more than 99% of our grasslands in the Eastern United States since European settlement. With this loss, grassland species such as the red-cockaded woodpecker and grasshopper sparrow have declined significantly. Restoration of native grassland habitat will support a number of state and federally-listed plants and animals.

In 2017, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) awarded TennGreen a grant to oversee habitat enhancement on the 5,200-acre Coal Creek Farms in Cumberland County. Located adjacent to the Karst Forest at Grassy Cove (a 956-acre property that was protected by TennGreen), streams on Coal Creek Farms form the headwaters of Whites Creek. Restoration funding came from NFWF’s Cumberland Plateau Stewardship Fund, dedicated to enhancing watershed health and native forests for wildlife species protection. The restoration work at Coal Creek Farms focused primarily on aquatic habitat improvements, shortleaf pine plantings, and early successional habitat creation and enhancement. Over the course of the two-year grant period, TennGreen partners established approximately 865 acres of early successional habitat through burning, planted 45,000 shortleaf pine seedlings, treated more than 4,239 hemlocks for wooly adelgid, and improved aquatic and riparian habitat along 14 miles of streams through hemlock treatments and fencing for cattle exclusion.

Additionally, during the project, entomologist Dr. JoVonn Hill discovered an undescribed species of grasshopper. Upon comparing the specimens to some in the United States National Collection, Dr. JoVonn Hill discovered specimens from Grassy Cove, TN (which is near Coal Creek Farm) that were collected in the early 1900’s and labeled as “new species”, and thus confirming Dr. Hill’s determination that the species he found on the property was undescribed. This undescribed species is known only to occur in the general area around Coal Creek Farm making conservation of open woodland habitat at the farm vital to this species existence.