Osborne Farm Acquisition and Relocation (2001)

Land in Shady Valley to become buffer for Appalachian TrailBy Kevin Castle, Kingsport Times News, September 29, 2001

SHADY VALLEY – A land purchase transaction has taken place in Johnson County that will give more buffer lands to surround the Appalachian Trail.

According to information from the Appalachian Trail Conference based in Harpers Ferry, W.Va., the ATC and the Nature Conservancy acquired a 250-acre tract near Shady Valley, which they “immediately resold” to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service.

The transfer of ownership on Sept. 25 will allow the USDA to include the acreage in the boundaries of the Cherokee National Forest and serve as a buffer for the trail.

Bob Williams, ATC director of land trust, said the purchase was part of an effort to restore the trail’s original path.

“It is clearly our intention to move the trail back up onto the open fields and highlands of the farm,” said Williams in a telephone interview.

The trail originally went through the property of Mr. and Mrs. Lester Osborne of Shady Valley until it was relocated in the 1970s to a southwest boundary.

The Osbornes put the land up for sale in March, and a successful bid was lodged by the ATC soon after. The two not-for-profit organizations made up the difference between the appraised value and the sale price, said Williams.

“There are still some things that need to happen. The Osbornes have at least 90 days to get their things together, but there is no hurry on the USDA’s part,” he said.

“Other things that must be decided include what to do with the home that is on the property and other trail-related issues, but the USDA will handle that.”

The USDA and the Nature Conservancy will jointly manage a cranberry-bog preserve that is located on the property.

Gabby Call, Nature Conservancy Tennessee chapter protection director, said the bog on the property “has long been considered a critical habitat area” by the group.

With the purchase of the Shady Valley property, more than 99 percent of a corridor of buffer lands averaging 1,000 feet in width has been acquired around the trail.

A statement released by the ATC says the Osborne property, which contains mountain views that stretch all the way to Virginia’s Mount Rodgers, has been “desired for the trail corridor for more than two decades.”

The Appalachian Trail stretches for 2,168 miles from Maine to Georgia and was originally routed in the 1920s and ‘30s.

Reprinted with permission from the Kingsport Times-News.