Governor Phil Bredesen and the members of the Heritage Conservation Trust Fund Board have announced that five projects protecting more than 4,600 acres have been approved for $2.2 million in grant funding.
One of the projects approved Thursday for grant awards from the Heritage Conservation Trust Fund include:
The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, Morris Edward Roller- Jeffory Carl Young Tracts at Short Mountain in Cannon County.
A $154,000 grant will help protect the Roller and Young tracts, which consist of 942 acres seized by the U.S. Marshal's Office during a federal drug investigation in 2006. The defendants were convicted and the tracts subsequently forfeited to the U.S. Department of Justice and available for bargain sale. About half the tracts are contiguous with protected lands at Short Mountain. Two other tracts adjoin TWRA lands at Pea Ridge Wildlife Management Area located on the DeKalb/Cannon County line. Unique habitats include limestone caves, ephemeral wetlands and several rare plants and animals. The tracts are subject to becoming sold to different owners at auction. Kept intact, however, they serve as important areas for wildlife-related recreation and hiking as well as wildlife conservation and water quality protection. Project partners include The Nature Conservancy, Tennessee Parks and Greenways Foundation, Cannon County and Middle Tennessee State University.
"I continue to be very pleased with the work and focus of the Heritage Conservation Trust," said Bredesen. "The Trust Fund Board has leveraged funds carefully and worked with other public and private partners for the conservation and protection of priority land across Tennessee."
Funding for this round of grants comes from allocations and interest earned in the trust fund over the past three budget years. To date, the Heritage Conservation Trust Fund has approved just over $30 million dollars in grants to leverage for a total of $117,609,000 in conservation purchases to protect approximately 42,600 acres of priority land in Tennessee.
The projects approved for grant awards must meet certain criteria before the funds are provided, including property surveys and appraisals, environmental assessments and enactment of mechanisms like conservation easements to guarantee the permanent protection of the properties.
"Greater prioritization for funding is given to projects that involve partnerships, leverage state funds and enhance or connect existing public lands," said Trust Fund Chair Drew Goddard. "This round of grants will help protect more than 4,600 acres with an estimated value of more than $9 million. The participation of the Heritage Conservation Trust fund in these projects provides the maximum benefit to Tennesseans while leveraging available funds."
Eligible projects range from the preservation of tracts for the purposes of tourism and recreation to projects focused on protecting or restoring the state's physical, cultural, archaeological, historical and environmental resources.
The application deadline for the next grant funding cycle will be in early 2009, with grants to be announced in the spring of 2009. Projects demonstrating a level of urgency for threatened lands also may be considered by the Heritage Conservation Trust Fund Board at any time. Pre-application instructions and forms and additional information about the Heritage Conservation Trust Fund are available at http://tn.gov/environment/trustfund/.