Late this spring, the Sierra Club's Watauga Group celebrated a big victory when 8,600 acres of Doe Mountain, in the state's northeastern corner, was officially saved from clear-cutting and exclusive private development.
"This is a huge win, and it protects a significant portion of our Watauga Watershed," says Gloria Griffith, right, chair of the Watauga Group.
Among the top priorities of the Watauga Group (the Tennessee Sierra Club's newest group) has been protecting water quality in Doe Creek, a spring-fed creek that runs around Doe Mountain. Doe Creek supports an exceptional wild rainbow trout population and some of the largest fish sampled in Tennessee streams in recent years.
The creek flows then into Watauga Lake, a Tennesee Valley Authority reservoir that sits 1,959 feet above sea level and is known for its exceptionally clean water. TVA describes the lake as being located "...in some of the most beautiful country in the Tennessee River watershed."
Thanks to the heads-up work of Watauga Group activists, notably Gabby Lynch and Dennis Shekinah, Doe Mountain will remain forested and open to the public. That's Shekinah at left, below; Lynch at right.
Let's let Dennis tell the story (which appeared in the June/July issue of the Tennessee Chapter's newsletter, the Tenne-Sierran):
Doe Mountain encompasses 8,600 acres of wilderness known best by hunters on foot and Tennessee Wildlife Research Agency officers in 4-wheel-drive vehicles. It is home to black bear, white tail, fox, coyote, turkey, king squirrel, bobcat and, some say, cougar.
Left alone for generations, this slice of heaven is about to change. Soon, all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), horses, mountain bikes, and hikers from all corners will be drawn to Doe, altering its timeless and peaceful character forever. Let me explain why this is a good thing...