Staff photo by Ben Benton / Local conservationists are worried erosion from a proposed logging project along Tumbling Creek, a trout stream in the mountains west of Copperhill, Tenn., could cause significant damage to environment. Members of Tennessee's chapter of the Sierra Club hope to get the U.S. Forestry Service to stop or scale back the project. Conservationists say trees along the stream include massive hemlocks, beech trees, mountain laurel and rhododendron, and lots of other hardwoods like oak, maple and hickory.

For outdoors enthusiasts, conservationists or people who simply love nature, a regional meeting of like-minded folks set this weekend at Coker Creek Village in the Cherokee National Forest offers expert speakers, music and family fun.

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Davis Mounger, co-founder of Tennessee Heartwood

"This year's lineup is going to be one of our best ever," Tennessee Heartwood spokeswoman Sheryl Campbell said this week in a news release. "The sheer diversity of workshops and events has something for everyone. From native wildlife nature walks in Bald River Gorge to wilderness survival skills to our Saturday night barn dance, there's going to be nonstop fun."


To find more information about registration and the schedule of events, contact Davis Mounger at 423-8988-4717 or or Sheryll Campbell at 423-693-4729 or or visit online.


The Heartwood Annual Spring Council has been held in a different forest each year for the past 29 years. Heartwood, a group that describes itself as "a grassroots coalition of conservation and sustainable living groups from around the eastern United States," includes representatives from chapters in Tennessee and Kentucky who will participate in events, according to officials.

Spring council organizers said Heartwood "has chosen to shine a light on the south zone of the Cherokee, which has benefited from a recent success in protecting Tumbling Creek, a native trout stream, from what would have been a high-impact logging project." Officials also noted the recent passage of a congressional bill to add protection to thousands more acres in the Bald River Wilderness.


To get to Coker Creek Village from Interstate 75 exit 36, take State Route 163 east toward U.S. Highway 11 and turn right at the stop sign. Continue south a half-mile on Highway 11, turning left, just past the Hardee’s, to remain on Route 163. Stay on Route 163 east to U.S. Highway 411, turning left on Highway 411 and continuing north into Etowah. In Etowah, take a right onto State Route 310 and continue to State Route 39, remaining on Route 39 to State Route 68. Turn right on Route 68 and continue south about 10 miles to the Coker Creek Village office on the left.


The Times Free Press covered the controversy over proposed logging of Tumbling Creek starting in June 2017 when conservationists launched efforts to block the work, and eventually ended up filing suit against the U.S. Forest Service in March 2018. The Forest Service finally chopped its logging plan in June 2018.

"We chose Coker Creek this year because it is simply one of the best campgrounds we've ever been to, and it's right near the largest complex of protected wilderness in the eastern U.S.," Heartwood member Davis Mounger said in a statement. "It's got scenery galore, but [includes] your summer camp amenities, like cabins and a mess hall. Folks can register to spend the weekend or drop in informally during the day for free. We just want folks to take advantage of the great things this weekend has to offer."

Mounger touted highlights.

"We're really lucky to get Jason Drevenak of the North American Bushcraft School to teach primitive survival skills, like bow and drill fire starting, emergency shelters, and more, and what better place to do that with the region's premier wilderness nearby? Jason knows how to get even absolute newbies confident about their outdoors skills. Every hunter and hiker should learn this stuff," Mounger said.

Other workshops and events will include wildlife identification walks with biologist Richard Foster and a walking workshop with Jim Scheff, of Kentucky Heartwood, on the importance of old growth forests and the new science of using tree rings to interpret a forest community's natural history, Mounger said. Scott Banbury of the Sierra Club and environmental attorney Shelby Ward will work with those interested in protecting the environment in their communities.

Speakers also include Chattanooga 9-year-old Cash Daniels, an aspiring environmental conservationist who has received a shout-out from actor Mark Wahlberg, published his own book and launched his own company.

Campbell said the fellowship involved in the event is "special."

"It goes way beyond workshops. It's typical to have someone share their knowledge of an endangered species or how to sharpen a knife while eating breakfast," Campbell said. "We're looking for a great turnout this year."

Contact staff writer Ben Benton at or 423-757-6569. Follow him on Twitter @BenBenton or at