About 59 acres of the 4,000-acre Bendabout Farm in Bradley County, Tenn., will be preserved in perpetuity for wildlife habitat, according to a conservation easement between the Nature Conservancy and owner Summerfield Johnston Jr.
"Bendabout Farm's beautiful hardwood forests, rock outcroppings and creeks are now safe from harm, even if the property changes ownership," said Gabby Lynch, program manager for the Nature Conservancy.
Bendabout Farm is owned by Johnston, a former Coca-Cola bottling executive. The land was settled by the Johnston family in the 1830s and has become a working horse farm, as well as a hunting and fishing retreat.
Johnston, who donated the easements, could not be reached for comment.
Paul Kingsbury, spokesman for the Nature Conservancy, said there are two conservation easement agreements -- one for a forested ridgeline and another for a bottomland forest and stream.
The largest is a 36.56-acre easement of ridgeline property adjacent to a 424-acre easement donated to the Nature Conservancy in 2008. That property will add protected acreage to acreage on a woodsy ridge known as Butler Knobs.
Another 22.81-acre easement will benefit a stretch of Brymer Creek and its healthy streamside edges, helping to maintain a wildlife corridor, particularly for migratory birds.
The Nature Conservancy will hold the new agreements and monitor the property to ensure land use restrictions are maintained.
A conservation easement is a voluntary, legally binding agreement that limits certain land uses or prevents development from taking place on a piece of property now and in the future. The easements protect lands and waters but also preserve private property rights and ownership.