Thousands of acres in Kentucky and Tennessee will be protected as wildlife habitat

The Nature Conservancy, a nonprofit aimed at conserving land and water, is acquiring 100,000 acres of forest split between southeast Kentucky and northeast Tennessee. It will be one of the largest land conservation and ecological restoration projects for the organization in the Central Appalachians.

It will double the amount of Kentucky acreage the organization has protected, either through acquisition or conservancy easements that prevent certain development of the land.

The group plans to manage the property, known as Ataya, as a working forest and will also seek to protect wildlife habitat, secure clean water and sequester atmospheric carbon to mitigate climate change. The public will continue to have access to the land for hiking, hunting and other activities.

The forests and streams on the property impact water quality and supply in portions of Bell, Knox and Leslie counties in Kentucky, and Claiborne and Campbell counties in Tennessee.

The total property is 100,000 acres, with 55,000 acres in Kentucky and 45,000 acres in Tennessee. Before this project, The Nature Conservancy in Kentucky had protected 55,000 acres in the state.

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