The Environmental Journal of Southern Appalachia

Big South Fork closes 60-acre donut hole

Written by

Cliffs on the Big South Fork NPS photoNational Park Service

Land conservancy and estate of long-ago German immigrant expands protection of North White Oak Creek

Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area has grown inward by 60 acres.

The National Park Service announced this week that it officially acquired the donated acreage along North White Oak Creek within Big South Fork. It had previously been in private ownership.

The Allardt Land Company and the estate of Bruno Gernt (a remarkable individual in his own right) originally donated the approximately 60 acres within the boundaries of Big South Fork to TennGreen Land Conservancy. In December 2021, TennGreen transferred the property to the National Park Service.

“This tract provides essential protection for the south side of North White Oak Creek, a popular area in the southwest portion of the (125,000-acre park that straddles the Tennessee and Kentucky state lines in the Cumberlands).

“Park visitors will now forever be able to enjoy peaceful views across the creek of an oak-hickory and northern hardwood forest canopy,” Superintendent Niki Stephanie Nicholas said in a press release.

“We truly appreciate the Allardt Land Company, Estate of Bruno Gernt, and TennGreen for their generosity.”

Rate this item
(1 Vote)
Published in News

Related items

  • Big South Fork seeking information on vehicles dumped in Blue Hole

    IMG 2389

    The National Park Service and officials with Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area are still looking for those responsible for dumping derelict vehicles in a remote part of the park known as Blue Hole.

    Park staff found two vehicles and a boat illegally discarded in a section of the park closed to traffic. The junk was discovered Aug. 26 and staff and rangers had to pulled from other projects to clean up the mess.

    Park staff recovered an abandoned vehicle, UTV, and boat from the Blue Hole section of the park that appeared to have been dumped in separate incidents.

    “The resulting cleanup pulled staff away from planned trail work and public safety duties. Additionally, illegally dumping trash and other items create a negative visitor experience for those hoping to enjoy the serene natural beauty of Big South Fork NRRA,” said Superintendent Niki Stephanie Nicholas in a press release.

    "Visitors are reminded that abandoning property in the park is prohibited by federal law."

    Anyone with information concerning these incidents is encouraged to contact the NPS at 423-223-4489 or leave a confidential message on the Resource Protection Tip Line at 423-569-7301.

    The 24-hour tip line allows callers to remain anonymous.

  • Despite Covid slowdowns and shutdowns, Smokies draws $1B in 2020 revenue to neighboring communities
    in News

    Brace fishingA Knoxville man tries his hand at fly fishing in Abrams Creek during a family camping trip on the southwestern side of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Thomas Fraser/Hellbender Press

    Green begets green in Smokies region; Big South Fork and Cumberland Gap also economic players

    Recent federal analysis of spending by national park visitors is a testament to the economic benefits of environmental protection, scientific study and outdoor recreation.

    The 12.1 million visitors to Great Smoky Mountains National Park in 2020 spent $1.024 billion in neighboring communities in both Tennessee and North Carolina, according to a study released this week by the National Park Service. Similar, localized releases were distributed into national park communities across the country.

    Closer to home, that number represents the estimated visitor money spent in areas that include traditional “gateway” communities, such as Townsend and Gatlinburg, and Cherokee and Bryson City in North Carolina. Regionally, it’s at least a $5 million increase since 2012. Travel problems, housing and employee shortages, overdevelopment and environmental destruction are of course persistent in some of those areas.

  • It's Epic: 7,500-acre Roan Mountain wild land donation largest in North Carolina history

    CItizen Times: Roan Mountain donation will protect vast stretches of forest in Roan Highlands

    Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney donated 7,500 acres to the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy, an area described by an Asheville Citizen-Times reporter as "A high-elevation hideaway for birds, bears and salamanders, a massive piece of Western North Carolina’s famous mountains left unmarred, and a refuge for rare species in the face of climate change...

    "The property includes the largest American Chestnut restoration project in the country, extensive boulder fields, rich coves, old growth forests, six waterfalls, and a system of rare heath balds," according to Citizen-Times reporter Karen Chavez. 

    The land area is at least equivalent to the size of some highland state parks. 

  • Big South Fork of Cumberland River rises to highest level in 80 years
    Independent Herald: Big South Fork sets record flow and depth rates
    The Big South Fork of the Cumberland River rose to its highest level in 25 years and washed out recreation facilities and bridges in the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area during pounding rains that moved over the plateau and Tennessee Valley late last week and over the weekend.
    River velocity rates rose to an astonishing 81,200 cfs over the weekend. That's a measure of how much water passes per second at a given point. The river crested at 42.5 feet.
    "Five days ago marked the 92nd anniversary of the historic March 1929 flood that caused catastrophic damage in Scott County," the news site reported.
    "On Sunday, local rivers reached their highest levels since that 1929 flood, after numerous thunderstorms dumped as much as eight inches of rain over portions of Scott and Morgan counties in a 24-hour period."

     

  • The days the Earth stood still (Part 1): Covid cleared the air in the lonely Smokies
    in Air
    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         Great Smoky Mountains National Park Air Resource Specialist is seen at the Look Rock air quality research station.   Courtesy National Park Service

    The lack of regional and local vehicle traffic during the pandemic greatly reduced measurable pollution in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

    This is your Hellbender weekend read, and the first in an occasional Hellbender Press series about the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on the natural world

    Great Smoky Mountains National Park shut down for six weeks in 2020 during the Covid-19 pandemic. Recorded emissions reductions during that period in part illustrate the role motor vehicles play in the park's vexing air-quality issues. The full cascade of effects from the pollution reductions are still being studied.

    Hellbender Press interviewed park air quality specialist Jim Renfro about the marked reduction of carbon dioxide and other pollutants documented during the park closure during the pandemic, and the special scientific opportunities it presents.  He responded to the following questions via email.

    Hellbender Press: You cited “several hundred tons" in pollutant reductions during an interview with WBIR of Knoxville (in 2020). What types of air pollutants does this figure include? 

    Answer: Carbon dioxide (CO2) would be most of the tons reduced from the lack of motor vehicles in the park during the park shutdown because of the pandemic.  Carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen oxides (NOx),  volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and particulate matter are other emissions that were lower, but to a much lesser extent.  

    HP: During what time frame?

    A: It was based on when the primary park roads were closed, for about a six-week period from March 24 through May 9 (2020) 

    HP: Was this based on data collected at the Look Rock air-quality monitoring station or monitoring sites throughout the park? 

    A: No, it was estimated reductions in air emissions (tons) from using the park's emissions inventory for criteria air pollutants and greenhouse gases coupled with the reduction in park visitation data for the period of the park shutdown.

    HP: Was this a result of reduced auto travel in the park? 

    A: Yes. 

    HP: A lot of emissions, of course, come from outside of the park. Was the improvement in air quality also a function of reduced pollutants coming from outside the park? 

    A: The documented reduction was with emissions, not air quality. Air quality analysis is still under way to look at changes in air pollutants. 

    HP: What do you think the primary reasons for the air quality improvements were?  

    A: If there were reductions in air pollutants (and that is still being analyzed by EPA and NPS Air Resources Division), it was due primarily to the reduction in motor vehicle emissions in and near the park (and regionally).

    HP: Did you purposefully set out to quantify the pandemic’s effect on air quality, or was this an “accidental” discovery? 

    A: We did not purposefully set out to quantify the pandemic's effect on air quality. Monitoring efforts continued during the pandemic and provided a unique and unexpected opportunity to characterize the differences in air emissions (from park closures and limited motor vehicle emissions) and air pollutants (which will take longer to look at laboratory analysis after quality assured analysis).

  • Big South Fork mulls price increase for camping, other uses
    WVLT: Public comment sought on fee increases

    Bandy Creek, Blue Heron and Alum Ford campground fees would increase costs to between $15 and $140, depending on use. Comments will be accepted through March 22.

More in this category: « New year. Old challenges.