& Natural Resources
Forested & Conservation Lands
Forest Trail Through Cumberland Mountain State Park
According to the 2010 Tennessee Forest and Resource Assessment Strategy (FRAS) report, the Cumberland Plateau and West-Central Tennessee contain the most forested land within the state. Byway counties of Putnam, Cumberland, and Roane each contain 50 to 74 percent of land in forest, while Smith County contains 25 to 49 percent of land in forest. An estimated 83 percent of Tennessee timberland is privately owned with approximately five percent being managed by the U.S. Forest Service as National Forests and seven percent held by state, local, and other federal agencies. A significant portion of the Byway corridor is found within FRAS priority areas, and nearly half of the Byway corridor is located within a Forest Legacy Area, according to the FRAS report. These areas are watersheds that are heavily forested and “face high levels of threat to development, and hold significant value in enhancing or maintaining aquatic resources.” Aquatic resources include those watersheds that either have public drinking water supply intakes, well established forested riparian habitats, or critical aquatic habitat” (FRAS, 2010).
As most of the forested land within the Byway corridor is privately owned, the division of large tracts of forested land and their sale is a large threat to habitat and aquatic resources. These large tracts of land are particularly significant as they harbor an exceptional diversity of biological species and provide critical nesting habitat for neotropical songbirds. The Plateau bears a rare remnant of the globally important Southern Appalachian forest, as well as the last surviving examples of old-growth mixed mesophytic forest within its gorges. Such a forest occurs at Piney Falls State Natural Area which is within twenty miles of the Byway and is considered a National Natural Landmark (The Cumberland Plateau National Heritage Corridor Feasibility Study, 2006). Tracts of forested public land within ten miles of the Byway include Cordell Hull WMA, Catoosa WMA, Lone Mountain State Forest, Luper Mountain, Mt. Roosevelt WMA, and Oak Ridge WMA. These sites and the following conservation lands, wildlife refuges/management areas, reservations, wilderness areas and preserves are resources that are directly accessible from the Byway.