The Bridgestone Reserve at Chestnut Mountain. (Photo: Contributed)

Bridgestone Americas, Inc., a subsidiary of Bridgestone Corporation, the world’s largest tire and rubber company, has announced plans to donate 5,763 acres on the Cumberland Plateau to The Nature Conservancy. The property is located in White County, near Sparta. View map here.

The property, to be known as the Bridgestone Nature Reserve at Chestnut Mountain, is the largest land donation in the history of The Nature Conservancy in Tennessee. The gift will protect and enhance biologically-significant habitat for a range of endangered plant and animal species and will provide connectivity to adjoining protected forests, including the 10,000-acre Bridgestone/Firestone Centennial Wilderness previously gifted by Bridgestone to the state of Tennessee.

Protecting this property in the future also maximizes the potential for mitigating climate change through the land’s ability to capture carbon. The 5,763 acres are so robust that even a portion will be sufficient remove the carbon dioxide from the air to offset the carbon footprint of the Bridgestone Tower, the company’s corporate headquarters in downtown Nashville, for years to come.

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Christine Karbowiak, Chief Administrative Officer and Executive Vice President for Bridgestone Americas:

“At Bridgestone, we have a corporate social responsibility philosophy called ‘Our Way to Serve,’ in which we are not only committed to making our communities where we work stronger but are equally dedicated to our environmental commitment to ensure a healthy environment for generations to come. The Bridgestone Nature Reserve at Chestnut Mountain is a beautiful part of Tennessee and home to some of the most biodiverse forests in the United States. We are proud to partner with The Nature Conservancy, which shares a mutual goal of restoring and managing this fragile forest to the benefit of us all.”

The Reserve’s most notable natural feature, Chestnut Mountain, is the highest peak in White County, with an elevation of approximately 2,000 feet. The acreage includes Billy Branch Lake, mixed hardwood and pine forests, wooded mountain bluffs, as well as various caves and streams. The area is home to rare species, such as the peregrine falcon, eastern slender glass lizard and barking tree frog, along with rare plants like the Cumberland rosemary and Michigan lily. The area is also a known habitat for wild turkey, quail, deer, bobcat, red and gray foxes, timber rattlesnake and beaver. These elements combine to make Chestnut Mountain a very high conservation priority.

Plans for the Bridgestone Nature Reserve at Chestnut Mountain will include low-impact public access and the creation of connector trails between Chestnut Mountain and the other protected lands in the area. The Nature Conservancy will develop a master plan for public access first.

Since 2014, Bridgestone and The Nature Conservancy in Tennessee have been working in partnership on the property on innovative restoration and habitat enhancement. With The Nature Conservancy’s assistance, Bridgestone has enrolled the land in Forest Stewardship Council certification, a non-regulatory conservation tool designed to recognize and promote responsible forest management. Making the property a working forest not only improves the habitat value of the forest but active, progressive forestry practices improve carbon sequestration and create an innovative revenue stream through sustainable forest products that support rural economic development.

The Nature Conservancy has protected—through acquisition and conservation easements—more than 242,000 acres in Tennessee on the Cumberland Plateau. These forests are in proximity and provide connectivity to several other preserved natural and recreational areas, including Virgin Falls State Natural Area, Fall Creek Falls State Park, Bledsoe State Forest, Latimer Boy Scout Reservation and Dog Cove.

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