"There are few places in the Upper Cumberlandsthat are not special
to someone. There are even fewer places that are special to everyone.
Scott's Gulf is one of those places."
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Scott's Gulf Today
Bridgestone/Firestone's generous donation of the Centennial Wilderness in 1998 and 1999 insured that the citizens of Tennessee will always have 10,000 acres of the Gulf to enjoy. Added to the 315 acres that comprise the Virgin Falls Pocket Wilderness (which is owned by Bowater, but also managed by TWRA), almost half of this beautiful area is now public lands. But we still have a long way to go if we are going to protect the Gulf in its entirety.
In early spring of 2003, the Friends of Scott's Gulf announced that they had worked with the Tennessee Parks and Greenways Foundation --using funds from the Trust for Scott's Gulf, as well as donations raised by the Foundation--to obtain the Jerry Clark property, a 194-acre-plus tract at the lower end of the gorge. The land is currently owned by the Tennessee Parks and Greenways Foundation, but we hope that TWRA will be able to purchase the land from the Foundation. In the meantime, the deal resulted in a $40,000 loan which will need to be repaid to the Foundation's land bank. Still, $40,000 for almost 200 acres of pristine wilderness is a bargain in anyone's estimation. Once this latest tract is brought into the fold, it will put us within 3800 feet of connecting with the existing acreage of the Centenniel Wilderness.
As we all know, the secret of the Cumberland Plateau is out. Houses, golf courses and condominiums are springing up on every rocky bluff, huge picture windows peering out grotesquely over coves that were once wild, green and untouched by modern society. Our opportunity to set aside Scott's Gulf as a natural wilderness recreation area in its entirety will probably vanish within the next few years. Now is the time for those of us who enjoy the beauty and recreational opportunities of the Gulf--hikers, paddlers, climbers, riders, hunters and cavers, and all who love environmental diversity--to get Scott's Gulf placed into public ownership, before it is lost forever.
In response to its citizens, the State of Tennessee has said it is committed to securing the Gulf for public use. We are off to a great start, but it is up to us to remind the State that 10,000-plus acres of wilderness can't be managed well by an agency that is understaffed, underequipped an underfunded. It is up to us to work with TWRA and other organizations to ensure that the Gulf remains an area for the enjoyment of wilderness past-times, with the access policies and resource protection WE want. And it is up to us to seize opportunities to procure properties adjacent to the Bridgestone/Firestone tract, so that as much of the Gulf can be preserved and protected as possible.
If all this sounds like a good idea to you, Join the Club!
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We welcome your comments or bug reports via email to your friendly, neighborhood speleoweb hostess, April Hannah, NSS #35012.
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(C) Copyright 2003, April Hannah for the Upper Cumberland Grotto of the NSS and the Friends of Scott's Gulf. All Rights Reserved. Photos available on this web site are the property of individual members of the Upper Cumberland Grotto or the Friends of Scott's Gulf. Failure to request permission before saving the contents of this web page to disk for your own use is pretty darn rude, as well as a violation of the U.S. Copyright Law.