Committee Chair

Tucker, John C.

Committee Member

Wilson, Thomas P.; Shaw, Joey; Aborn, David A.


Dept. of Biology, Geology, and Environmental Science


College of Arts and Sciences


University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Place of Publication

Chattanooga (Tenn.)


Tennessee's first linear state park, the Cumberland Trail State Scenic Trail, will stretch over three hundred miles from Signal Point in Hamilton County, to the Cumberland Gap on the Kentucky border. Although the trail uses land already in public ownership at different locations along its proposed route, land purchased to secure a state-managed corridor for the Cumberland Trail acquires properties along an expansive area of the Cumberland Plateau. Efforts to acquire land for the trail' s corridor utilize both federal and state funding, and constitute the largest land acquisition project in Tennessee. This large and unique State Park land acquisition effort, with further ecological monitoring and analysis, will provide substantial contributions to sound conservation of the Cumberland Plateau. The ecological value and potential contribution of the developing park receive close analysis here, using academic research and field studies. Guidelines regarding the most effective design of nature reserves, derived from biogeography, are applied to the protected area of the Cumberland Trail to articulate that area's potential contribution to the region's ecological integrity. Additionally, research from field studies provides baseline data on the natural resources contained within the Cumberland Trail State Park's land, and identifies where further research could provide greater understanding of the Cumberland Plateau. The processes utilized for Cumberland Trail land acquisitions are also examined and analyzed to determine some of the difficulties in the acquisition procedures, and why these encumbrances arise. Florida's land acquisition efforts, as carried out by Water Management Districts in that state, are also examined in order to provide a comparative lens through which the Tennessee system might be more critically analyzed. Based on these data and analyses, I argue that the Cumberland Trail presents an important opportunity for effective land conservation on the Cumberland Plateau, and that continuing research carried out on Cumberland Trail properties holds the promise of greatly increasing our ecological understanding of this diverse and threatened region. I further contend that the land acquisition process in place for Cumberland Trail acquisitions should be improved, and should receive more support from state agencies in Nashville, so that it may continue and fully realize the potential ecological contribution of this emerging park.


I would like to thank everyone who has helped me during the research and writing of this work. Cooperation offered by the staff of the Cumberland Trail State Scenic Trail, and especially park manager Bob Fulcher, proved indispensable to completing this research. I would also like to thank my committee chairman, Professor John Tucker, and my graduate committee: Dr. Tom Wilson, Dr. Joey Shaw, and Dr. David Abom, who have continually gone above and beyond their responsibilities as committee members for this project. Opportunities provided by Tennessee State Parks, the U.S. Office of Surface Mining, and the North Chickamauga Creek Conservancy enabled this research to effectively proceed in the manner it did. Instruction, guidance, and support provided by Andy Carroll, Larry Cook, and Stacy Huskins greatly improved my ability to perform various components of this research. I am also indebted to the staff of the South Florida Water Management District, particularly Marjorie R. Moore, and the staff of St. John's River Water Management District for their generous support for the Florida component of this research. Finally, I offer my heartfelt thanks to my family and friends for their continued support and encouragement.


M. S.; A thesis submitted to the faculty of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the degree of Master of Science.




Trails--Tennessee--Cumberland Trail; Natural resources--Management; Conservation projects (Natural resources)


Cumberland Mountains; Cumberland River Valley (Ky. and Tenn.)


Natural Resource Economics

Document Type

Masters theses




viii, 72 leaves



Call Number

LB2369.2 .M543 2007