Fourman662 US-70, Rockwood, TN 37854
Property Type: Public
Roane County, TN – On a chilly day back in February of 2017 FLC’s Executive Director, Bill Clabough, spoke to an audience at Asbury Place, a retirement community in Blount County, TN. The group wanted to hear all about Foothills and questions arose such as, ‘What does FLC do exactly? Where are some of the preserved properties located and what are they like?” One gentleman in the front row seemed to have a particular interest in land preservation. His name is Don Fourman and, unbeknownst to the Conservancy, he had quite a large preservation project of his own in mind.
Mr. Fourman owned close to 1,000 acres of natural lands in Roane County – a beautiful property with creeks, woodlands, scenic views along with a unique history – and he had been considering how best to preserve this property for future generations. One of the tract’s borders adjoins the 11,000 acre Mount Roosevelt State Wildlife Management Area (WMA). After a few initial conversations with the Conservancy, along with staff and Board site visits, Don Fourman deeded the property to FLC in March of 2017.
In 2019 the Conservancy placed an FLC conservation easement on it and conveyed to the State of Tennessee’s Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA). TWRA plans to manage and steward the property as part of the Mount Roosevelt State WMA. Other natural areas nearby include: White’s Creek Gorge, Ozone Falls State Natural Area, Piney Falls SNA, and Stinging Fork Falls Pocket Wilderness. In addition, other nearby private easements held or co-held by FLC include approximately 2,745 acres in Roane County.
WHY IS THE FOURMAN TRACT WORTH PRESERVING?
Walden Ridge traverses the entire length of the Fourman tract, forming steep forested slopes on both sides with uplifted escarpment rock outcrops on the south-
facing slope. This ridge is a well known migratory pathway not only for the golden eagle but also for other raptors, songbirds, and butterflies.
Along with the Mt. Roosevelt WMA this tract also runs along the edge of the Cumberland Plateau and offers magnificent views of the valley, Watts Bar Lake, and even the Smoky Mountains. In turn, the Fourman property and the entire Cumberland Escarpment can be viewed from high points in the Smoky Mountains such as Gregory Bald and Look Rock.
FLC staff observed a variety of species during site visits. Eleven butterfly species were noted including the rare golden-banded skipper. This species is ranked by
the Tennessee Department of Environment & Conservation (TDEC) as rare and uncommon in the state.
Thirty-six species of birds were spotted —mostly closed forest dwellers, as there were no openings apart from narrow roads, waterways and rock outcrops. The
Appalachian Mountains Joint Venture, which coordinates and implements all-bird conservation plans within the Appalachian Mountains Bird Conservation Region, has deemed many of these as Highest Priority species. These include the wood thrush, worm-eating warbler, Acadian flycatcher, brown-headed nuthatch and indigo bunting.
The ridgeline on the property is also a documented migratory flyway for the TN S1 ranked golden eagle and other raptors. This state threatened-status raptor depends on large forested blocks as are found on the property for passage between its breeding grounds in northeastern Canada and its wintering grounds in the Southeast U.S.
A portion of White’s Creek and Piney Creek, located on the property, are mapped as a High Priority conservation area by the State of Tennessee. These two creeks, along with Rock Creek, a Piney Creek tributary, are rated as fully supporting by TDEC. This conservation area contains 13 aquatic threatened or endangered species including the laurel dace, tangerine darter, and orangefoot pimpleback. White’s Creek and Piney Creek are also considered suitable habitat for the eastern hellbender by the Conservation Biology Institute.