Division of Natural Areas Contact
Reggie Reeves, Director
7th Floor, L&C Annex
401 Church Street
Nashville, TN 37243-0447
The Natural Areas Program was established in 1971 with the passage of the Natural Areas Preservation Act (T.C.A. 11-14-101). Since passage of this act, the General Assembly has designated 79 State Natural Areas. Management and use of State Natural Areas is governed by this act and the Rules for the Management of Tennessee Natural Resources Areas. Many of these Natural Areas are managed through Cooperative Management Agreements with other local, state and federal agencies as well as with non-governmental organizations.
In addition, the Natural Areas Program administers the Natural Areas Registry Program which develops non-binding voluntary agreements with private and public landowners to protect sites of ecological importance. There are presently over 30 such Registered State Natural Areas. The Natural Areas Program seeks to include adequate representation of all natural communities that make up Tennessee's natural landscape, and provide long term protection for Tennessee's rare, threatened and endangered plant and animal life.
The National Natural Landmarks Program recognizes and encourages the conservation of outstanding examples of our country's natural history. It is the only natural areas program of national scope that identifies and recognizes the best examples of biological and geological features in both public and private ownership nationwide. National Natural Landmarks (NNLs) are designated by the Secretary of the Interior, with the owner's concurrence. To date, fewer than 600 sites have been so designated. The National Park Service administers the NNL Program. Thirteen NNLs have been established in Tennessee, 6 of which are designated State Natural Areas (Bone Cave, Cedars of Lebanon Forest, May Prairie, Piney Falls, Reelfoot Lake, and Savage Gulf) and 1 is a registered State Natural Area (Sinking Pond and Goose Pond at Arnold Engineering and Development Center). For more information on the NPS National Natural Landmark Program, visit: http://www.nature.nps.gov/nnl/ (exit TDEC). (Rules for Management of Tennessee Natural Resources Areas-.pdf format)
Natural areas represent some of Tennessee's best examples of intact ecosystems and serve as reference areas for how natural ecological processes function. Research activities that provide greater knowledge of these processes are permitted upon approval of the Division of Natural Heritage. Applications for Scientific Research Collecting Permits may be obtained and submitted to the Division of Natural Areas for considerations. Upon approval, a Permit will be returned to the applicant and must be in the applicants possession when conducting permitted research activities. State law prohibits any collection of plant, animal or mineral from State Natural Areas without a valid Scientific Research-Collecting Permit.
Program Manager, State Natural Areas Program