Foothills Land Conservancy has recently reached this year's goal of protecting a total of 25,000 acres of East Tennessee land from residential and commercial development. What a way to begin 2010 and celebrate FLC's 25th birthday! This past year, FLC worked with 16 land owners to preserve 2510 acres! In addition, we partnered with the North American Land Trust to preserve an additional 1,898 acres of the Three Sisters property on Chilhowee Mountain - bringing us well over the acreage number needed to complete our goal.
Launched in 2007 - one of our best years ever - and one that saw more than 3500 acres protected, FLC set out to promote our mission of land conservation to East Tennessee individuals and families. The primary method in which FLC works with land owners is to work with them on placing a 'conservation easement' on their property.
Land placed in a protected easement through Foothills remains in its natural state and cannot be developed, but owners do not give up title to their property - in fact they can continue to own, use, live, lease or donate their land. No tract is too large or too small for a conservation easement. As Bill Clabough, FLC's Executive Director, explains it, "This is a legal contract between a landowner and FLC describing activities that may take place on a property in order to protect the land's conservation value. Both parties have input into the contract's specifics."
Bill also notes that property's environmental qualities are what make the 25,000 acres special. "We're talking about land that provides for rare and migratory wildlife, that offers views of the Smokies and adjacent foothills, 150 year old trees, and streams where the re-introduction of trout has taken place. These places are unique to our region and help us hold on to our rural character." For landowners, like Joyce McCroskey of Blount County, signing a conservation easement "is worth doing, it's important. My late husband, David, and I have always been supporters of land conservation. We live in a special place and this is how I can help keep it that way."
FLC is currently in the planning stages for our 25 in 25 celebration with details to be announced in the coming weeks. Please contact the Foothills office with questions regarding our land conservation programs, image requests, or to set up interviews with conservation easement donors.
FLC always welcomes the donor support of our 'Friends of the Foothills'. Friends receive our Annual Report, electronic newsletters, an invitation to all activities, and the satisfaction of knowing their support will make a lasting impact on our region. We welcome all contributions and no donation is too small.