Campaign to preserve H.G. Hill land earns honors

Thursday, July 8, 2010 at 2:01am

For more than two years, Friends of Warner Parks members beat the bushes to raise $10.8 million to buy 322 acres from the H.G. Hill family.

They met their goal. Now, all that hard work is starting to pay off as the group collects pledges made during the “Save Our Ancient Forest Campaign.”

The group also got kudos from Gov. Phil Bredesen last week when it was awarded the 2010 Governor’s Excellence in Natural Heritage Conservation Award.

Given by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, the award recognizes the voluntary efforts of individuals and organizations in protecting, preserving, or restoring Tennessee’s natural landscape and native flora.

The land, located between Highway 70 South and Highway 100 across from Warner Parks, includes nearly 200 wooded acres of “ancient forest” that have never been logged for timber.

An old-growth forest, like the one on the Hill tract, is a remarkable natural resource for Nashville. This property features the largest cave in Davidson County, and when added to the 2,684-acre Warner Parks system, it will be one of the largest old-growth forests in an urban park in the United States.

But the land will not become immediately available to the public.

The friends group must collect all its pledges and pay off the bank loan before it can turn the land over the Metro Parks Department.

Once the land is in Metro’s hands, there will planning, including several public meetings, to determine the best way to both preserve the ancient forest and allow public access to its treasures.