616 acres added in the southern Blue Ridge Mountains.

It’s still possible (amidst the scurry to take from public lands) to protect our pristine wilderness areas. Through multi-partnerships, cooperation, federal funding, and the private conservation efforts of one family, 616 acres were officially added to the Cherokee National Forest in September 2018.

This particular land near the Tennessee-Georgia border is critical as a protection for Taylor Branch, a tributary of the Conasauga River. As one of our country’s most biodiverse rivers, this entire habitat is considered ‘high priority’ in the Wildlife Action Plan of the state Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. In the area live 15 species from Tennessee’s threatened and endangered list, as well as 11 aquatic species from the federally endangered list.

I can see the western ridges of the southern Cherokee NF from my hometown; and have a long list of local favorite bird species. It’s a good day when the opportunity to see them improves by 616 acres!


Magnolia Warbler. Photo by © Michael Todd


Indigo Bunting. Photo by © Michael Todd


Summer Tanager. Photo by © Michael Todd


Bald Eagle. Photo by © Mike Blevins


Downy Woodpecker. Photo by © Mike Blevins


Pileated Woodpecker. Photo by © Mike Blevins


Red-eyed Vireo. Photo by © Mike Blevins


Red-tailed Hawk. Photo by © Mike Blevins


Conasauga River snorkeling video courtesy of © Georgia Conservancy

Thanks to The Chattanoogan for covering this event.

Read about The Nature Conservancy’s work with private landowners for conservation.

Learn about The Conservation Fund’s protection and acquisition efforts around the country.

(Featured image – Cherokee National Forest, southern section.)

Written by Angela Minor
Angela Minor’s first avian adventure involved a 1000-mile road trip just to look at hummingbirds. As a lifelong vagabond, she has lived, traveled, and birded across the continental U.S., Alaska, the Caribbean, and seven European countries over the past three decades. Freelance travel writer is her third career, following teacher and small business owner. She’s a regular contributor to several travel publications including Blue Ridge Country and Smoky Mountain Living, and writes feature articles for Ft. Myers Magazine, 3rd Act, and international cruise sites. She serves as a field editor with Birds & Blooms, the “Park Watch” Beat Writer for 10,000 Birds, and authors the state park birding series for Bird Watcher’s Digest.