(left-right) State Rep. Jere Hargrove, State Rep. Charles Curtiss, State Rep. Mike McDonald, State Sen. Charlotte Burks and Environment and Conservation Commissioner Jim Fyke joined Governor Phil Bredesen as he signed the Tennessee Heritage Conservation Trust Fund Act of 2005 on September 15, 2005 at Burgess Falls State Natural Area.
The Heritage Conservation Trust Fund provides a mechanism for the state to work with other public and private partners for the conservation and protection of priority tracts across Tennessee. “It’s personally important to me to preserve land for the future of our state and the people of Tennessee,” said Governor Bredesen. “Once it’s gone, we can never go back to the wild spaces that are so much a part of Tennessee’s landscape. The Heritage Conservation Trust Fund allows us to leverage our resources by partnering with other public and private groups who are seeking to achieve the same goals.”
Projects approved for Trust Fund grant awards must meet certain criteria before the funds are provided, including property surveys and appraisals, environmental assessments and enactment of mechanisms such as conservation easements to guarantee the permanent protection of the properties. Eligible projects range from the preservation of tracts for the purposes of tourism and recreation to projects focused on protecting or restoring the state’s physical, cultural, archaeological, historical and environmental resources. Greater prioritization for funding is being given to projects that involve partnerships, extensive leveraging of funds, and those that enhance or connect existing conservation lands.
The application deadline for the next grant funding cycle is September 3, 2007, with grants to be announced in December 2007. The Board welcomes pre-application submissions from local governments, state agencies, non-profit conservation organizations and other non-governmental organizations to assist the State of Tennessee in acquiring land for preservation and conservation purposes. The pre-application is the initial step required for a proposal or project to be considered by the Trust Fund Board. Projects demonstrating a level of urgency for threatened lands may also be considered by the Heritage Conservation Trust Fund Board at any time.
I encourage you to contact the Heritage Conservation Trust Fund at (615) 532-0104 if you want to learn more about this program or to discuss this application process with department staff. Thank you for supporting conservation of Tennessee’s natural heritage and unique land resources.
Marie Stringer Yeagle, Executive Director
Tennessee Heritage Conservation Trust Fund