LOST COVE, adjacent to the Domain of the University of the South, protects one of the last and best remnants of indigenous hardwood forest. It is a large topographical depression formation located in the Sewanee Quadrangle near the eastern edge of the Southern Cumberland Plateau. Essentially a giant sinkhole, the Cove is rimmed by sandstone bluffs and is totally surrounded by mountains.
Lost Cove is well over 5,000 acres and home to several rare species of plants and animals. The forested area abounds with oaks, hickories, maples, buckeye, tulip poplar, sour wood and basswood. It is considered the most bio-diverse in the nation. The natural area has a wonderful spring wildflower display and explodes with fall color. A significant cave system graces the Cove from Lost Cove Cave to the Big Sink to Buggytop Cave, which features an impressive entrance of 100 feet wide and 80 feet high.
In addition to the record-breaking number of conservation easements donated by generous Tennessee landowners in 2007, on February 12, 2008, The Land Trust for Tennessee completed an exciting four-year effort to purchase and permanently protect Lost and Champion Coves. This prize land on the South Cumberland Plateau could only be saved through a purchase.
The Coves are adjacent to the 10,000-acre Domain of the University of the South and extend to the boundary of privately held land at the bottom of Lost Cove. The Land Trust will hold a perpetual conservation easement on the land and will monitor to be sure that the land stays protected. The property will be owned and managed by the University as an outdoor academic laboratory and for recreation—making the University campus now total 13,000 acres.
These Coves have significant conservation values and history. The opportunity to link large protected tracts and create wildlife corridors of this magnitude come along rarely; this 3,000-acre tract connects the Domain to the 8,000-acre Franklin State Forest and ties together two State Natural Areas: Buggytop Cave and Natural Bridge.
The success of this effort would not have been possible without the leadership commitment of $1.75 million from the Tennessee Conservation Heritage Trust Fund, a state initiative established three years ago to leverage important and urgent acquisitions. Their act helped to inspire early and significant gifts from the Benwood Foundation and the Lyndhurst Foundation with The Nature Conservancy. We all owe enormous thanks to these organizations.
And for the final push to get to the total $4.3 million needed for the acquisition, The Land Trust had the great fortune to be able to partner with Sewanee: The University of the South for the Lost Cove Campaign. In record time, the last and key dollars were raised. Major commitments by alumni and friends of both the University and The Land Trust, in conjunction with a grassroots effort among young alumni, raised gifts totaling $1.2 million.
So many people made this special project possible, especially our friends at the University and the foundations who have supported this work. We would also like to mention the yeoman's world of Land Trust board members Julian Bibb and his firm Stites and Harbison, Gentry Barden, and former board member Bruce Dobie. Their Commitment to the protection of this area is unparalleled, and we are forever grateful.
On top of this purchase, three landowners with property that abuts the Coves were inspired to donate conservation easements to add to the protection of this area. We are all so appreciative of Lee Stapleton and John Adams, along with John and Melissa Goodson for their gifts that enhance this magnificent area.
The Land Trust for Tennessee would like to thank all our donors and supporters that made the protection of the amazing resource possible.
Reprinted by permission: The Land Trust of Tennessee.
It's hard to believe that nearly a year has passed since The Land Trust for Tennessee and the University of the South protected 3,000 acres around Lost and Champion Coves. In addition to this great news, the conservation of this resource has inspired three other landowners to protect properties adjacent to Lost Cove and Champion Cove through The Land Trust for Tennessee.
Dedicated to continuing conservation efforts in the area and furthering the work towards creating a corridor of protected lands on the South Cumberland Plateau, three adjoining landowners in Champion Cove—John and Melissa Goodson, John and Lynn Adams, and Dr. Lee Stapleton—committed to protecting their properties through The Land Trust. Together, they donated conservation easements on more than 530 acres in 2007, adding to the already protected 3,000-acre Lost Cove.
"We're glad we could work with The Land Trust," said John Adams. "We encourage more people to do this, to protect this amazing resource."
Many players and pieces have come together to further connect the public lands in the area into a mosaic of intact forestlands. This past summer, The Land Trust worked together with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation to add 132 acres to Carter State Natural Area. The property consists of the primary entrance and parking area, and a significant portion of the scenic trail to Buggytop Cave.
The Land Trust is currently working with several landowners and the State of Tennessee to preserve the rich biological diversity and unique forested landscapes known to exist in the South Cumberland area. The region is believed to be one of the largest privately owned forested areas remaining in the Southeastern United States.
To date, The Land Trust has protected approximately 11,700 acres of unique, bio-diverse cove and plateau landscapes within the South Cumberland Project Area and continues to work intently to advance the already strong momentum of conservation in this area.
For more information about our efforts on the South Cumberland Plateau or to talk about protecting your land in the area, please contact Chris Roberts, our South Cumberland Region Project Manager: (931) 598-9690.
Reprinted by permission: The Land Trust of Tennessee.
The Plateau of Tennessee hosts extraordinary recreational opportunities, comprising over 500,000 acres of public lands that include five National Parks, 91 State Parks, Natural Areas, Scenic Rivers, State Forests and Wildlife Management Areas. Over 1,000 miles of trails, 700 miles of State Scenic Parkways and Bike Trails and eight major reservoirs complete the outdoor offerings.
State Parks in Franklin County include Walls of Jericho, Franklin State Forest and Tims Ford State Park. Tims Ford State Park includes 10,700 acres, Tims Ford Lake and "Bear Trace"—an 18-hole Jack Nicholas golf course, which has been rated one of the top 10 places to play by Golf Magazine.
Cumberland Habitat Conservation Plans