The Fiery Gizzard trail is approximately 17 miles long and is one of the top hiking trails in the nation, according to Backpacker magazine. More than 250,000 visitors enjoy this prized recreational area each year, creating a strong tourism economy that is essential to the overall economy in the South Cumberland Region.

Although the trail is open to the public and managed by the State of Tennessee as part of the South Cumberland State Recreation Area, half of the trail itself and the majority of the views were privately owned by a timber investment firm. The firm was required to sell the land, making it available for purchase.

Seizing an Opportunity

The Fund partnered with the Land Trust for Tennessee and the Friends of the South Cumberland State Recreation Area to purchase and protect more than 6,200 acres of the western bluff of Fiery Gizzard Cove and more than a mile and a half of the Fiery Gizzard trail system.

Funding to purchase the property at Fiery Gizzard came from a variety of sources. The total cost of the Fiery Gizzard project was about $8.1 million. The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation committed to contributing more than $4 million. Once more than $1 million in donations was acquired, a challenge grant from an anonymous donor encouraged the community to complete the campaign.

In 2013, a grant from the U.S. Forest Service’s Forest Legacy Program allowed the Department of Environment and Conservation to purchase a working forest conservation easement on 3,282 acres adjacent to South Cumberland State Park and the Fiery Gizzard Trail in Grundy County. The property will remain in private ownership and be managed as a working forest, which significantly benefits the local economy while conserving the area’s exceptional biological diversity.

Why This Project Matters

The Fiery Gizzard area had been an urgent priority within the conservation community for several decades. The protection of these acres ensures the trail and bluff are conserved forever.

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Places We Protect: Wild Havens