NASHVILLE – Fall Creek Falls State Natural Area in Bledsoe and Van Buren counties has been inducted into the Old-Growth Forest Network, a national network of protected, native, publicly accessible mature forests.
“We are proud to receive this designation,” Roger McCoy, director of the Division of Natural Areas for the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, said. “Fall Creek Falls is a natural wonder in our state, and we are pleased to see it get national recognition.”
Dr. Sarah Horsley, network manager of the Old-Growth Forest Network, presented a plaque Sept. 25 to celebrate the dedication of the forest. Attendees hiked the “Base of the Falls” trail to see features of the forest in the Fall Creek Falls State Natural Area.
“We are excited to include Fall Creek Falls State Natural Area in the Network,” Dr. Horsley said. “We depend on local, county-level volunteers to help us identify the candidate forests they want to see recognized and work with forest and park managers to make sure these forests will remain protected.”
Fall Creek Falls is a 16,181-acre natural area located within Fall Creek Falls State Park. Its waterfalls, cascades, streams, gorges, forests and cave features make it one of the most visited natural areas and state parks in the southeast. Fall Creek Falls is the highest waterfall east of the Rocky Mountains, plunging 256 feet into a shaded pool. Piney Falls, Cane Creek Falls and Cane Creek Cascades, which are also in the park, are smaller but equally impressive falls. A pine-hardwood forest covers much of the plateau above the falls.
The mission of the Old-Growth Forest Network is to connect people with nature by creating a national network of protected native forests. The program works to identify forests for the network, ensure protection from logging and inform people of the forest locations. Founded in 2012, the network includes over 100 forests in 23 states. For more information visit www.oldgrowthforest.net.