30 Nov Lone Star Purchase Fills a Gap
The state of Tennessee continues to move forward with the acquisition of over 6,600 acres of land in Cumberland County adjacent to Interstate 40. The purchase effort, largely through TennGreen requires over $6 million before the tract can be secured.
The Cumberland Trails Conference had approached Lone Start Properties numerous times over the past eighteen years in an attempt to get a land easement for the trail with no success. Then in 2018, legislation was passed banning further installation of power generating wind turbines in Tennessee. The property was at that time under consideration for an array of twenty-two turbines. Lone Star, unable to conclude the turbine contract, made the land available for purchase by the state for preservation.
Acquisition of the land provides a crucial link and closes an huge gap in the 300 mile corridor of the Cumberland Trail between Daddys Creek and Ozone Falls State Natural Area.
When complete, the CT will gain 45 miles of trail with one gap of less than two miles.
In 2016 a new trail section was opened from Keys-Harrison Road south to Hebbertsburg Road totaling 7.5 miles. The trail crosses Hebbertsburg Road at Long Rockhouse Branch and continues in a U shape, crossing DeLozier Branch, returning to Hebbertsburg Road near the TVA power line trace.
Getting from Daddys Creek to Ozone Falls
Through hikers face a daunting 8 mile road walk to get to the next link on the Cumberland Trail. When the Ozone Falls Section opens sometime in 2020, the 8.4 mile road walk from Hebbertsburg Road trailhead to Black Mountain will be eliminated. If the Lone Star property is not acquired, through hikers will still face a dangerous 8 mile road walk to get to Ozone Falls on US 70, four miles east of Crab Orchard.
Once the land is acquired formal scouting and trail design can begin. The new route will diverge somewhere near the DeLozier Branch bridge and begin an assent to the Pine Ridge / Barnes Mountain saddle. From there the route will likely hug the ridge overlooking I40. It then will descend into Grapevine Hollow and climb again over Spencer Ridge before descending toward Fall Creek. After that is a road walk of less than a half mile to Ozone SNA.
Headwaters and Viewshed Preservation
Part of the mission for both the CTC and the Cumberland Trail State Scenic Trail is the preservation of watersheds and the scenic value of the wilderness.
Crab Orchard Gap greets travelers as they get to the top of the Cumberland Plateau on I40 West. Lone Star property acquisition will preserve this view and prevent it from being clear cut or surface mined.
Streams originate on Lone Star land
Baker Branch, Steep Bluff Branch and DeLozier Branch to name a few originate in the Lone Star property and feed into Daddys Creek. Daddys Creek flows north and eventually joins the Obed River in Morgan County.
On the east side of the ridge lines Mammys Creek, Millstone and Berks Creek among others have sources in the Lone Star property. They all feed Fall Creek which joins Whites Creek and eventually emerges in the Tennessee River in Rhea County.
Naturally the CTC and the CTSST hope that the corridor selected for the Cumberland Trail will be over suitable terrain and include opportunities for scenic views. But the vast majority of the property will become state managed land under Wildlife Management status, State Natural Area status, or some combination.
Contribute to the Cause
If you hike, or just want to see wilderness preserved for the future, consider making a donation to TennGreen for the acquisition of the Lone Star property HERE.