The 108-acre tract rises above a sharp bend in the river about 5.7 miles north of Macon County. The tribe plans to incorporate a scenic hiking trail to exhibit traditional Cherokee uses of natural resources that will serve as educational learning centers for children around the region, and white-oak regeneration will allow local artisans and craft-makers to obtain the resources they need to make their crafts. The tribe will also continue to protect the forest through traditional forest management practices.
The USFS Community Forest Program grant will provide $302,305 toward the project, with the tribe putting in a matching amount of funding.
“The Hall Mountain Community Forest has returned a key resource to the tribe — a working forest that is also a cultural landscape which has been shaped by thousands of years of use,” said Tommy Cabe, Forest Resource Specialist for EBCI. “The continuation of traditional use and forest management fits the values of Cherokee land stewardship.”
The forests at Hall Mountain reflect thousands of years of human shaping through fire and low-impact harvesting, mainly of non-timber forest products including artisan materials, nuts and other foods, as well as wood. Prescribed burning, invasive species removal, and tree planting may be used to help restore the health and diversity of the forest while preserving the cultural history of the property. The conservation and restoration of these lands also protects soils and streams that drain into the Little Tennessee River.
In total, the Community Forest Program awarded $4 million to 10 community forest projects across seven states.