Tennessee to Expand Wildlife Area by 1,000 Acres

by Matthew Memrick

Tennessee’s Bear Hollow Mountain Wildlife Management Area officially just got bigger by 1,000 acres.

The area is north of the Alabama border and an hour west of Chattanooga.

The Associated Press reported that the new land connects the divided land. Thanks to the Conservation Fund’s land purchase in March 2021, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency found time and money for the land purchase. 

The agency manages 125 wildlife management areas throughout the state.

Land Deal Was A Top Priority

According to The Chattanoogan, The Conservation Fund worked in partnership with the Open Space Institute (OSI), The Nature Conservancy in Tennessee (TNC), and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) to close the deal. The Nature Conservancy of Tennessee helped out with some donations. They came from the Riverview Foundation, the WestRock Foundation, and a private estate gift.

The newspaper said that the Corum tract 1,001-acre Corum tract was a top priority for the wildlife resources agency. The area has a fair share of very unique rocky landscapes.

“Connectivity of protected landscapes like this one are essential for forest health, habitats, and climate resiliency,” said Ralph Knoll, The Conservation Fund’s Tennessee State Director.

Knoll said his group celebrated the Corum purchase. He said it built off decades of conservation work in the state with the TWRA, OSI, TNC and Tennessee’s congress members.

Consequently, the property transferred last week to the state. The state has two other wildlife management areas in the area. They are Mingo Swamp WMA and Owl Hollow Mill WMA.

Most residents were happy with the move. On the WDEF Facebook page, Tricia Long said she was “glad to hear that we need to keep some of Tennessee’s natural beauty.”

Another commenter on The Chattanoogan Facebook page was angry over a TWA sale of the 1,200-acre Cummings Cove WMA in Hamilton and Marion counties. Joey Blevins said a developer bought the area. Initially, it was a public rec area purchased with taxpayer money through a Federal Legacy problem. 

Property Protects Bats, Plants

Officials said eight bat species live there and three identified as threatened or endangered. Equally important, there are several federally-listed plant species on the property. The Chattanoogan mentioned Price’s Potato Bean and Moorefield’s Leather-flower two protected plants. 

Tennessee officials say numerous birds live on the 17,000-acre tract. Whippoorwills along with the Indigo Bunting and Eastern Towhee frequent the area. Eight kinds of Warblers, Scarlet Tanager and Wood Thrush, are migratory songbirds found in the area.

By the same token, the area also has hiking trails near the Alabama state line for wildlife viewing. Additionally, hunting is allowed.

A northern access trail has an excellent valley overview and a 1-mile hiking trail loop. Hikers going south can connect with a path to the Walls of Jericho in Alabama. 

Finally, the area is open year-round during daylight hours with no fees.