A scenic spot in Dade County Georgia will now be preserved thanks to the efforts of the Georgia-Alabama Land Trust.

Johnson’s Crook, a scenic and cave-rich natural area, is situated in a horseshoe-like valley framed on three sides by Lookout Mountain. It was slated for development into a mountain subdivision called the Preserve at Rising Fawn, which failed following the downturn of the economy in 2008. Thanks in large part to the work of the land trust, more than 2,400 acres are permanently protected as the Charles B. Henson Cave Preserve at Johnson’s Crook, owned by the Southeastern Cave Conservancy Inc. The Land Trust holds a conservation easement on all of the land in the preserve.

Georgia-Alabama Land Trust Inc. received a strategic grant of $240,000 last fall, making it possible to contribute over 154 acres of land to the Southeastern Cave Conservancy’s preserve at Johnson’s Crook in Dade County, Georgia. The Land Trust’s donation was supported through Open Space Institute’s Northwest Georgia Land Protection Fund, which is made possible with funding from the Lyndhurst Foundation and the Benwood Foundation. The Northwest Georgia Land Protection Fund seeks to build capacity of land trusts working to protect ecologically significant landscapes in Northwest Georgia.

Georgia-Alabama Land Trust has been working for over six years to protect Johnson’s Crook through the acquisition of land and through donations of conservation easements.

“We have seen an outpouring of support from Open Space Institute, the Lyndhurst Foundation, individuals, corporations, banks, county officials and community members, helping to make this landscape and cave preserve possible,” said Katherine Eddins, executive director of the Georgia-Alabama Land Trust.

The Cave Conservancy’s partnership with the Land Trust stemmed from the interest of Charles B. (Chuck) Henson, a long-time recreational caver, conservationist and early advocate of protecting the Johnson’s Crook. “I can’t tell you how thrilled I am that this project came together,” said Eddins. “The importance of preserving Johnson’s Crook first came to my attention 15 years ago. It has been gratifying to see land that was headed toward development conserved in its natural state.” The Land Trust is now turning its focus toward working with the Cave Conservancy to create a multipurpose trail connecting the Charles B. Henson Cave Preserve to nearby Cloudland Canyon State Park.

Georgia-Alabama Land Trust Inc. was founded in 1994 and is accredited by the Land Trust Alliance. It is now the largest private lands conservation organization in the Southeast, protecting over 380,000 acres with more than 1,000 conservation easements. Anyone interested in protecting land through a conservation easement can contact the Land Trust at www.georgiaalabamalandtrust.org.

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