The Sequatchie Cave State Natural Area is growing by 1,000% after the state announced Monday it has acquired 125 acres of land in Marion County.
The land was purchased from Drs. Jim and Sherry Turner, of Hattiesburg, Mississippi, with the help of nonprofit conservation group the Land Trust for Tennessee. The acquisition expands the state natural area from 12 acres to 137 acres, according to a news release from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation.
"This is a dramatic addition to the Sequatchie Cave State Natural Area," said Roger McCoy, director of the Division of State Natural Areas, in a statement. "We are grateful to our partners at The Land Trust who helped make this acquisition possible, and we look forward to preserving this site."
Sequatchie Cave, located where Owen Spring Branch flows from the mouth of the cave, and its cold spring water support three federally and state-listed animal species, three other species of state concern, and many other aquatic and cave species, the release states. It is one of two sites where the federally endangered royal snail is known in the world. Both are in Marion County. This is also the site where the rare Sequatchie caddisfly was first described. The caddisfly is reported only from three other spring-fed streams, all in Marion County.
"The Land Trust for Tennessee is honored to support this significant expansion of Sequatchie Cave State Natural Area," said Emily Parish, vice president of conservation for The Land Trust for Tennessee. "Conserving this site is not only important for the protection of wildlife; it offers increased opportunities for locals and visitors to experience and enjoy the natural area."
The state natural area is a former Tennessee Department of Transportation roadside park and was later managed by Marion County and its county highway department before it was designated a state natural area in 2001. While the public still enjoys the roadside park, the Division of Natural Areas manages the site for the benefit of the rare species that occur in Owen Spring Branch, the release states. The cold spring water supply at Owen Spring is in part why the unincorporated community of Sequatchie was first settled.