Photo Credit: Todd Crabtree
Cumberland County

Karst Forest at Grassy Cove

PROJECT PARTNERS U.S. Forest Service, Open Space Institute, Tennessee Department of Environment & Conservation

This nationally-awarded conservation success protects 956 acres of scenic, forested, and cave-riddled habitat along Justin P. Wilson Cumberland Trail State Park (the Cumberland Trail).

The Karst Forest at Grassy Cove is located on the South end of Grassy Cove framing this nationally-significant Tennessee natural treasure. Wildflowers adorn the steep slopes in springtime and the trees blaze in the fall. Along the steep northern slopes are hidden wonders: Lost Waterfall Cave, Little Dogwood Pit, Spouting Dome Cave, and five other caves are found there.

Between 2014 and 2017, TennGreen Land Conservancy purchased these 956 acres and gave them to the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation to be managed as an extension of the Justin P. Wilson Cumberland Trail State Park (the Cumberland Trail). The purchase cost $2,200,000, which was raised from private individuals, federal funding, and a significant grant from the Open Space Institute’s Resilient Landscapes Initiative and Southern Cumberland Land Protection Fund.

A substantial amount of the success of this effort was due to the support of the Department of Interior and the U.S. Forest Service, who ranked this project ninth in the country to receive funding through the Forest Legacy Grant program. Funding for the Karst Forest at Grassy Cove project was included in the Fiscal Year 2017 Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, which funds the Department of Interior, the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Forest Service and other agencies.

Conservation of this 956-acre parcel, with its abundant woods and water, widens the wildlife corridor of the Cumberland Trail along Brady Mountain and protects the lands needed as species experience pressure from extreme weather. ​In 2019, TennGreen and partners were awarded the U.S. Forest Service’s Wings Across the America’s Habitat Conservation Partnership award for this important project.