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Forest Legacy Program

Success Stories

"Walls of Jericho"

The stone "walls" that give the Walls of Jericho it's characteristic name.

In 2005, Tennessee named the Walls of Jericho as their number one priority for the Forest Legacy Program in their state. The Walls of Jericho, also known as the Grand Canyon of the South, gets its name from an impressive geological feature that forms a large bowl shaped amphitheater giving rise to 200-foot sheer rock walls. The Walls of Jericho Forest Legacy Project covers vast tracts of hardwood forests on Carter Mountain, an area on the Southern Cumberland Plateau that was originally owned by the Texas oil magnate, Harry Lee Carter, in the 1940’s. Much of this area was opened to the public up until 1977. However in recent years, changes in land ownership removed much of Carter Mountain from public use and left the native hardwood forests immediately threatened by outside development interests. Since 2001, the lands associated with the Walls of Jericho project changed ownership twice and each change was accompanied by a higher threat of subdivision and development. The fragmentation that often accompanA pool that shows the beginning of the Walls of Jericho's subterranean caves.ies development would have greatly jeopardized the health of the forest and wildlife within the Walls of Jericho property. Through the efforts of numerous individuals and organizations, and supported with partial funding from the U.S. Forest Service’s Forest legacy Program, this land is now protected for continued sustainable forest products production, hunting and other recreational activities.

The Southern Cumberlands of Tennessee, the greater area surrounding the Walls of Jericho, is home to the highest known concentration of cave ecosystems known in the world. This area is also home to the highest diversity of subterranean invertebrates in the world. The temperate hardwood forests in the area are extremely important for the long-term conservation of priority neotropical migratory birds in the Central Hardwoods and Appalachian Regions. The headwaters of Paint Rock River can also be found in the Walls of Jericho, which is one of the few remaining high quality free-flowing rivers in the entire Tennessee River Basin. The Paint Rock River is home to over 100 species of fish and 45 species of mussels. Two species of mussel found in the river, the pale lilliput and the Alabama lampshell, are found nowhere else in the world and one fish species, the palezone shiner, is confined to the Paint Rock River and only one other stream in Kentucky.

The Nature Conservancy recognized the Walls of Jericho as one of six national hotspots for biodiversity and purchased the Tennessee and Alabama Walls of Jericho properties in December, 2003, totaling 21,453 acres. The Rock Creek of the Walls of Jericho.The Tennessee portion of the Nature Conservancy’s purchase, 8,943 acres, was presented as the Walls of Jericho project for consideration under the 2005 Forest Legacy Program funding cycle. Tennessee’s Forest Legacy Committee ranked the project as its number one State priority.

The Forest Legacy program provided the majority of funding to purchase from the Nature Conservancy the 8,943-acre Tennessee “Walls” tract that contains Rock formation that gives the Walls of Jericho it's name.the signature amphitheater. The Nature Conservancy matched Forest Legacy Program funding by donating the near by 5,100 acre David Carter Tract. Alabama’s Forever Wild Land Trust partnered with The Nature Conservancy to purchase the 12,453 acre Alabama portion of the Walls of Jericho properties. The Walls of Jericho Project also abuts Alabama’s 27,000 acre Skyline Wildlife Management Area. Between the two states, over 48,000 contiguous acres of upland hardwood forests have been protected on the Southern Cumberland Plateau.

The 5,100 acre David Carter Tract and the 8,943 acre “Walls” tract are currently managed by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency as the Bear Hollow Mountain Wildlife Management Area. The 750 acres surrounding the prominent gorge and amphitheater are managed by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, Division of Natural Areas as the Walls of Jericho State Natural Area.

In 2001, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation identified the Southern Cumberland regions, including the Walls of Jericho, as one of the Foundation’s nationally recognized forested landscapes in need of creative, high-leverage conservation tools and funding. Funding and high-leverage conservation resources are directly in line with what the Forest Legacy Program can provide. Through exemplary partners like the Nature Conservancy of Tennessee, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, Tennessee Department of Agriculture-Division of Forestry and the members of Tennessee’s Forest Stewardship Coordinating Committee, the Forest Legacy Program can continue to successfully conserve and protect the forest values exemplified by the Walls of Jericho and similar projects.The water quality in the Walls of Jericho is very clean as shown in this picture.





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 Last Modified: Monday, Dec 16, 2013 at 02:19 PM CST