RECAP: Annual Celebration 2023
On May 11th, we gathered in White Bluff for The Land Trust for Tennessee’s Annual Celebration to reflect on successes and talk about what’s next.
This year’s celebration felt especially momentous as we embark on our 24th year conserving land across the state and see our 25th anniversary on the horizon. With a team of 21 and more than 400 conservation projects comprising 135,000+ protected acres in 70 counties, the energy behind this organization has never been more positive.
Over the past year, our team closed on 13 new conservation projects, totaling over 1,100 acres. This includes a working farm along the Harpeth River in Williamson County, a 6th-generation family farm in Bedford County, undisturbed bluff land bordering Piney Falls State Natural Area, prime farmland along the Nolichucky River in East Tennessee, and another farm in a rapidly growing portion of Shelby County. We protected additional farmland buffering Fort Campbell in partnership with the U.S. Army and assisted Tennessee State Parks with a key addition to the Laurel-Snow State Natural Area to protect views from the Cumberland Trail. Earlier last week, we signed the conservation easement for a project seven years in the making: Walden’s Ridge Park, a 200-acre mountain biking and climbing destination in Chattanooga.
Meanwhile, our stewardship team, who work to uphold our promise of perpetuity, has also been hard at work. Over the last year, they have completed nearly 600 individual visits to protected properties across Tennessee. They have answered hundreds of questions and introduced 25 new landowners who purchased protected properties to our mission.
Passing of the Shovel | Welcoming a New Board Chair
Our Annual Celebration is also an opportunity to welcome new Board members and recognize those who are concluding their formal service to our organization. For the past two years (and a few more before that), Mark Manner has served as The Land Trust’s fearless Board Chair. After completing his term yesterday, we’re grateful he will stay on the Board and continue to Chair the Governance & Nominating Committee. The Land Trust also recognized Susan West and longtime Board member Gentry Barden for their support and dedication to our mission.
We’re excited to welcome Rosemary McIlhenny as our incoming Board Chair. During the program, she expressed her excitement for the year ahead and appreciation for the landowners who’ve made the decision to conserve their piece of Tennessee.
We owe a special thank you to Betsy and Tom Morgan for opening their beautiful farm to us. Our gracious hosts protected it with a conservation easement last year, and it’s just the beginning of their commitment to steward the land. They are actively working to care for the forest and reestablish a native grassland with the guidance of the Southeastern Grassland Institute. institute
We could not do this work without our community. Thank you to our landowners across the state and to all those who have brought The Land Trust to this point. We’re grateful for the hard work and partnerships that have given us so much to celebrate over the past 24 years and we’re truly excited for what’s ahead.