Land trust and neighbors secure 154 acres on Cowee

Landowners in Jackson County are in the process of protecting 154 acres on Cowee Mountain from future development by placing the property in a conservation easement with the Land Trust for the Little Tennessee.


George Rector and Joan Byrd of the Speedwell community received the land trust’s annual conservationist of the year award last month for their contribution.

Rector and Byrd have placed a conservation easement on 40 acres and are in the process of protecting an adjacent 114-acre tract. They recently bought the 114 acres tract from conservation-minded neighbors who sold the property at a reduced price on the assurance it would be placed in an easement. Those neighboring landowners, Lawrence and Maethel Shindelman, are members of the Land Trust for the Little Tennessee and were willing to sell the property below market value to see it preserved.

“Our interest in securing this land was based on a belief in the value of conservation, and our next concern was how to protect it beyond the span of our own lives,” said George Rector. “We approached LTLT with the idea of placing a conservation easement on our land, confident that we had found a local partner that would enable us to realize our long-range goals.”

Under a conservation easement, land remains in private hands. It can be bought, sold or passed down to heirs, but a deed restriction prevents it from ever being developed. In return, the owner reaps income and property tax breaks.

“Their actions demonstrate how conservation-minded landowners can help to ensure a positive future for our mountain communities.,” said Paul Carlson, LTLT executive director,

The Franklin-based Land Trust for the Little Tennessee works to conserve the waters, forests, farms and heritage of the upper Little Tennessee and Hiwassee River Valleys in the six far-western counties.

Since 1999 LTLT has conserved more than 8,200 acres of land in 33 separate projects, including 33 miles of Little Tennessee River frontage, 5 miles of Great Smoky Mountains National Park boundary, and nearly 1,000 acres of working farmland.

For more information contact 828.524.2711 or

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