[Bristol-Birds] Gabby Lynch of The Nature Conservancy moving her office out of Shady Valley, TN

  • From: "BBC Net" <jwcoffey@xxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "'Bristol Birds'" <bristol-birds@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 24 Jun 2015 21:42:25 -0400

Gabby Lynch, Director of Land Protection with The

Nature Conservancy, is moving her office out of

Shady Valley in Johnson County, TN and will now be

located at Zionville, NC near Mountain City.

The move will probably eliminate much driving from

Zionville to Shady Valley a few times each week. She

has been very busy working with The Nature

Conservancy's purchase of 8,600 acres of Doe Mountain

property in Johnson County, TN in what has been

reported as a project to develop a multi-use tourist

attraction for all-terrain vehicles, biking, horseback

riding and hiking.

The Nature Conservancy fronted $8,800,000 for the state

to buy the property.

Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville, said the Doe Mountain

venture could have a similar economic impact as

Southwest Virginia's 34-mile Virginia Creeper Trail, which is

open to hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding.

Gabby has been busy working with the State of

Tennessee, local officials and TNC in helping make the

project the success it is planned to be. It probably

takes most of her working hours

The Tennessee Nature Conservancy significantly raised its

profile in Shady Valley, and had restructured its operations

there in 2008 when she moved from the Nashville area to

manage TNC's land holdings, wetlands restoration, bogs

and other conservation activities as East Tennessee

Conservation Manager. She moved into the TNC office

and became the manager of Shady properties.

She had served as the Director of Protection for the state and

Conservation Projects Manager for the state chapter.

for 15 years. She had been the non-profit group's

point person for all kinds of initiatives, projects and lobbying,

both at the state and national levels before moving to Shady


TNC's area staffing duties have been in flux for several years and

it is not always clear what the conservation focus is in Shady


In 2008, Charles McQueen, who for years had been the

Shady Valley Preserve Manager, was given the title Southern

Blue Ridge Program Manager. His wife, Helen McQueen,

was named the Southern Blue Ridge Secretary for that

office. More recently, Charles' title has been returned to

Shady Valley Preserves Manager and Helen's position

reverted to Shady Valley Secretary. Kenneth McQueen,

a retired school teacher, who is Charles' and Helen's son,

has joined the staff as Shady Valley Preserves Assistant.

The passing of herpetologist Bern Tryon of the Knoxville

Zoo in 2011 has been one of the major impacts as has

The Nature Conservancy's drying up of mitigation monies

which were partly spent on the Shady Valley preservers

and turtle program.

Tryon left two large endowments upon his death and one went to

the Knoxville Zoo and the other to The Nature Conservancy for

habitat management for the Shady Valley bog turtle population. The

annual income from the endowment investments is about $8,000 each

year to the zoo and the same amount to TNC.

TNC has spent their $8,000 (or more) each year on fencing at Quarry

Bog and this year at Orchard Bog. The intent is to graze cattle in the

areas in order to try and defeat or control Reed Canary Grass which is

a major threat to natural wetlands and causes serious problems

for the Bog Turtle. It appears that TNC has long fought a losing battle

with this environmental problem and the grazing of cattle from the

Tryon endowment earnings has become a no-win effort.

The noticeable weathering and deterioration of the main signs at each

preserve is mute evidence that TNC either does not value their image

in the valley, or it is not a priority or they can't afford to fix the signs

because it is not in TNC's budget. TNC is the world's riches conservation


Some lands are still being acquired for the turtle habitat but they are

being purchased by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. One is

the Jenkins area on Orchard Road and another the Quarry Bog land with

the pond on Quarry Road. The sites are about 6 to 8 acres each.

Scott Dykes, the Region IV Wildlife Diversity Coordinator who took

Pete Wyatt's position when he retired from the Morristown staff, is

now the main turtle man for the state in Shady Valley.

Knoxville Zoo continues to do most of the studies of the turtles but they

have little money available. Michael Ogle, the zoo's staff herpetologist,

leads the zoo's efforts in Shady Valley along with two staffers - Steven

Nelson and Brad Moxley.

Meanwhile, Cassie Dresser, who is a Ph.D. graduate researcher in

Ecology, Behavior, and Evolution at the University of Tennessee - Knoxville,

is working on conservation genetics in Shady. She is assessing population

genetic issues raised by captive breeding, head-starting, and reintroduction

conservation strategies using next-generation sequencing. She is working

with the federally threatened Bog Turtle in Shady Valley but there is no

apparent application of this DNA science to managing the turtle population.

The efforts and future of Shady Valley and its bogs and turtles is not

so well focused and understood.

It is still one of the region's most significant and important birding

Wallace Coffey

Bristol, TN

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  • » [Bristol-Birds] Gabby Lynch of The Nature Conservancy moving her office out of Shady Valley, TN - BBC Net