Conservation Education and Advocacy
Our current focus is the “Forever Green Tennessee” campaign to restore the Tennessee Real Estate Funds. In 1991, the legislature added a small increase to the Real Estate Transfer Fees to save parks, wetlands, woods, wildlife and waters. Unfortunately, in 2003 – 2009, these “dedicated” conservation funds were diverted to Tennessee’s general fund. So we organized a coalition to Forever Green Tennessee.
For clean water, woods, and wildlife.
For local and state parks.
For the economy.
Forever Green Tennessee for our children's future.
These dedicated funds generate approximately 16.5 million dollars each year and have leveraged investments from federal, city and county, non-governmental organizations, and private philanthropy. Approximately 300,000 acres have been acquired with these funds – places that make our communities more livable, more attractive to industry and tourism; conservation projects that make our environment healthier and our economy stronger. The Foundation’s president and executive director was a primary lobbyist for the Act that established this funding in 1990-1991. In 2010 and in 2011, our campaign was successful -- $16.5 million for each year was restored for conservation.
Other Educational Campaigns
In 1999, we conducted a year-long campaign to “Keep the Country in Tennessee” and hired Stephen Small, the nationwide expert on conservation easements, to train 230 Tennessee attorneys, accountants, estate planners, other conservationists and landowners. Also, we publish an educational booklet called “Landowner’s Options” that we provide free of charge to individuals, land trusts, and professional advisors interested in conservation. When 12 State parks were closed in 2002 to “save money” for the state budget, we enlisted the support of 33 conservation organizations and organized “Tennesseans for State Parks.” This alliance, with our leadership, called for the doubling of the acreage set aside in Tennessee and other proactive platform components to not only reopen but improve Tennessee’s precious state park system. Other educational programs include “Creating Greenways and Trails… a citizen action guide” that trains ambassadors and provides kits to conduct community meetings to foster local greenways.
“Designing with Nature,” was a seminar designed to minimize the impact of a cabin resort under construction contiguous to the Cherokee National Forest and Appalachian Trail. In 2007, we supported the Tennessee Chapter of the Nature Conservancy as they worked with Governor Bredesen to create the North Cumberland’s Conservation Plan. This ambitious $82 million/124,000 acre project needed an extra push in the legislature so our Foundation organized a collaborative effort with 23 conservation organizations representing tens of thousands of Tennesseans to urge the state legislature to successfully pass this critical land conservation initiative. In 2008, advocacy focused on supporting efforts to protect our Cumberland Mountains from mountaintop removal (still not accomplished). Our primary partner for advocacy is Tennessee Conservation Voters.
- 1998 -Created State Park Connections Program
- 1999 -Started Keep the Country in Tennessee Campaign
- 2001 -Presented Designing with Nature Workshop
- 2002 -Creation of Tennesseans for State Parks Campaign
- 2002 -Enlisted Partnerships for Mississippi River Natural & Recreational Corridor
- 2003 -Formed Partners for Pathways with Tennessee Concrete Association
- 2004 -Completed first-ever Strategic Plan
- 2008 -Developed 2009-2011 Strategic Plan
- 2009 -Initiated Forever Green Tennessee Campaign
- 2010 -Led Coalition Forever Green Tennessee
- 2011 -Legislators restored $33 Million in Tennessee Budget
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