Projects on the Plateau

The Alliance for the Cumberlands is a partnership of public and private organizations unified in their commitment "To bring people together to achieve the ecological and economic sustainability of natural and human communities in the Cumberlands region". We have found that there is some misunderstanding about the many individual projects that are happening within this region. In an effort to educate and inform interested parties, we have put together the following list of definitions. The first two projects are ones that the Alliance for the Cumberlands is directly involved with. The rest are projects designed and implemented by others.

Proposed Cumberland Plateau National Heritage Corridor
Every day 100,000 vehicles cross the plateau on one of three Interstates. Just off those highways, there is more scenic public land than the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, with far greater public accessibility. There also exists a wealth of cultural and heritage assets that are of national significance. By linking these existing federal, state and local assets and marketing them on a regional scale, this project has the potential to give the plateau a widely recognized identity as a tourist destination. Agencies, organizations, public officials, businesses, and individuals of the Cumberland Plateau region are uniting behind a proposal to seek federal designation of the Cumberland Plateau as a National Heritage Corridor. The National Heritage Corridor project is designed to enhance conservation of the region's natural, cultural and recreational assets while providing economic development for distressed rural counties through increased nature- and heritage-based tourism. The Feasibility Study for this project was funded jointly by the TN Dept of Transportation, TN Wildlife Resources Agency, and TN Dept. of Environment and Conservation and can be downloaded from this website.

Contact Person: Edwin Gardner, Heritage Strategy Group at 843-577-9641 ([email protected]) or Katherine Medlock, Alliance for the Cumberlands at 865-546-5998 ([email protected])

Tennessee and Kentucky Conservation Action Plan
The Alliance for the Cumberlands is compiling a comprehensive view of the
plans for the Cumberland Region in Southern Kentucky and Northern Tennessee.
The purpose is to create a cross walk between the two State Wildlife Action
Plans and to achieve an overall view of the conservation goals for the
region, identify gaps, and facilitate the implementation of strategies.
Click here to review the entire plan.

Contact Person: Katherine Medlock, Alliance for the Cumberlands at 865-546-5998 ([email protected])

Envisioning the Future of the Cumberland Plateau
The University of the South's Landscape Analysis Lab (LAL) engaged the local leadership of the Cumberland Plateau and State Agencies in order to promote communication. A series of workshops and meetings were held over the past year culminating in a paper describing the needs/concerns expressed by residents and some recommendations from the LAL. More information about this project can be found at

Contact Person: Katharine Wilkinson at 931-598-3354 ([email protected])

Habitat Conservation Planning
The States of Tennessee and Kentucky are developing a multi-species, ecosystem-focused Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) in the Cumberlands to conserve aquatic and terrestrial species and the habitats and ecosystems on which they depend. The Cumberlands supports an extraordinary diversity of wildlife and plants. Constructive solutions that are driven by the private sector are needed to protect over 80 rare species while allowing authorized activities such as mining, forestry and water supply to proceed. In addition to the benefits of proactive conservation planning, approved HCP's are eligible for federal HCP Land Acquisition Grants that may be used to complement conservation efforts near existing HCPs.

During the first year of this initiative, sensitive species and habitats are being identified and partnerships are being fostered with landowners, companies and local governments to implement conservation measures to minimize and mitigate impacts to rare species. During the next several years the technical aspects and stakeholder outreach will continue to be developed to complete a HCP.

Contact Person: Alex Wyss, The Nature Conservancy at 865-546-5001 ([email protected]) or Emily Saunders at 865-974-1955 ([email protected])

Tennessee Heritage Conservation Trust Fund/Governor's Initiative
In 2003 the State Recreation Plan identified several plans of action to help address the critical issues of Tennessee's recreation and conservation heritage. Among those strategies identified was a proposal to develop a comprehensive statewide plan for the acquisition of recreation lands from willing sellers/donors (Proposal #7). In 2005 Governor Bredesen proposed, and the legislature approved funding viewed as the beginning of implementation of Proposal #7. The legislation also called for the formation of the Tennessee Heritage Conservation Trust Fund Board of Trustees to direct this acquisition program. The program funds for the first two years (20 million dollars) will be primarily focused on the Cumberland Plateau.

Contact the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation or Governor Bredesen's office.

Development, Land-use Policy, and the Future Hunting, Agriculture, and Forestry in the South Cumberland Plateau
This project is administered by the Tennessee Wildlife Federation and supported by the Lyndhurst Foundation and the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency. The project includes a GIS map-based analysis of large forested tracts on the plateau slated for development overlayed on data collected from TWRA's State Wildlife Action Plan. In addition there will be a series of surveys on impacts of development on hunting, forestry, and agriculture. Finally, there will be presentations to all five counties presenting data and conservation strategies.

Contact Person: Daniel Carter at 423-255-6704 ([email protected])

State Wildlife Action Plans (also known as State Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategies)
All 50 states have undertaken the task of creating a comprehensive plan for the conservation of non-game species of concern. To learn more or view the plans for Tennessee or Kentucky please follow the links below.

Tennessee's Plan:

Kentucky's Plan: