Press Release from the State of Tennessee, March 12, 2019:
The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) has acquired nearly 400 acres as an addition to the 440-acre Piney Falls State Natural Area in Rhea County.
“This significant acquisition, which contains stunning views of the ridge and valley of the Cumberland Plateau, provides additional protection for Upper Piney Falls,” said Roger McCoy, director of TDEC’s Division of Natural Areas. “We are grateful to our nonprofit partners for their support in making even more of Tennessee’s incredible viewshed accessible to visitors and rural residents alike.”
A parking area and hiking trails are currently provided at Piney Falls. The acquisition adds acreage that could lead to future trail development.
The acquisition transfers the land to the state from The Nature Conservancy in Tennessee (TNC). The Tucker Foundation assisted with the purchase through a grant to TNC, and the nonprofit Open Space Institute (OSI) provided funds toward the acquisition.
This latest partnership with OSI and TNC provides another example of the generosity of non-government partners helping accomplish TDEC’s mission.
“Piney Falls State Natural Area is more than a gorgeous place to experience the outdoors; it is also considered a wildlife habitat priority in Tennessee’s State Wildlife Action Plan,” said Terry Cook, TNC’s Tennessee state director. “When TDEC asked for our help to save additional land there, we jumped at the chance. This project is an excellent example of how private funding sources can leverage state funding to achieve conservation results for people and nature.”
“The conservation of Piney Falls demonstrates the importance of protecting land for wildlife facing an uncertain future,” said Peter Howell, executive vice president at OSI. “We commend The Nature Conservancy for acting quickly to purchase the property so it could be conserved for future generations.”
Piney Falls is a pristine forest land featuring creeks, waterfalls and old growth forest. It is also recognized by the United States Department of Interior as a National Natural Landmark. Piney Falls consists of deep gorges carved from the Little Piney River and Soak Creek Designated State Scenic River.
Designated in 1973, Piney Falls is one of Tennessee’s 85 State Natural Areas. For more information, visit https://www.tn.gov/environment/program-areas/na-natural-areas.html.