NASHVILLE, Tennessee, January 12, 2010 (ENS) – Tennessee officials announced today they have closed a land acquisition that will add more than 3,200 acres and 10 linear miles of trail to the Cumberland Trail State Park, the state’s newest park.

The acquisition of the Graysville Mountain area in Hamilton and Rhea counties was funded through a grant from the Heritage Conservation Trust Fund, federal grants and private funds raised by the Cumberland Trail Conference.

Brokered by the Land Trust for Tennessee, the land deal was cemented with $3.5 million in federal grants, a $1 million grant from the state’s Heritage Conservation Trust Fund from fiscal 2008, and a $300,000 contribution from the Cumberland Trail Conference, state officials said.

The deal includes a 2,197 acre conservation easement that will be held by the Land Trust for Tennessee.

“This acquisition speaks to the power of leveraging resources and cultivating partnerships to accomplish more than we could do alone,” said Governor Phil Bredesen. “I’m pleased that a variety of agencies and organizations were able to come together to accomplish an acquisition that will benefit Tennesseans for generations to come.”

The area provides opportunities for fishing, day hiking, whitewater paddling, swimming, rock climbing and trail running.

“Not only will the Graysville Mountain acquisition protect priority land and natural resources, it also represents an important piece of the Cumberland Trail,” said Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation Commissioner Jim Fyke. “Under Governor Bredesen’s leadership, we have made considerable progress on the trail, increasing the acreage managed by the Cumberland Trail State Park from 1,200 acres to 23,000 acres since 2003.”

“The Land Trust for Tennessee is thrilled to be a partner on this wonderful conservation project that will forever protect the incredible biodiversity of the unique, irreplaceable cove ecosystem along Walden Ridge,” said Executive Director Jeanie Nelson. “We appreciate the opportunity to partner with the state of Tennessee and Mr. Kinzalow on this landmark acquisition, and the permanent contribution to the future generations of Tennesseans that it signifies.”

The Cumberland Trail Conference, a nonprofit organization that assists the state in development of the Cumberland Trail, raised funding for this acquisition.

“We appreciate all the donors, volunteers and CTC staff that contributed and worked to execute a very successful fundraiser,” said Tony Hook, manager of the Cumberland Trail Conference. “It is because of their efforts that the CTC was able to assist with this land purchase to expand the reach of the Cumberland Trail.”

On Monday, the Trust for Public Land and state officials announced a 1,388-acre acquisition in upper East Tennessee that will add another 19 miles to the Cumberland Trail in Claiborne and Campbell counties.

Upon completion, the Cumberland Trail will be 300 miles long, cutting through 11 Tennessee counties from the Cumberland Gap National Historic Park on the Tennessee-Virginia-Kentucky border to the Signal Point near Chattanooga.

More than 150 miles of the Cumberland Trail is currently open for public use. For more information on the Cumberland Trail State Park and Scenic Trail, visit www.tnstateparks.com.

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