Landowners encouraged to place conservation easements
Suzanne Normand Blackwood
The Tennessean
August 16, 2006

WEST MEADE -- Protecting the area's natural and historic features is the aim of the West Meade Conservancy, a group that recently formed in the West Meade area

The group officially got its start April 22, which was Earth Day. About 60 people showed up, said Anne Williams, who refers to herself as "an enthusiastic volunteer" for the group.

A major goal of the group is to protect the forest in the West Meade area from development. This includes encouraging landowners to agree to conservation easements by donating development rights of portions of their land to organizations that share the mission of the West Meade Conservancy.

The West Meade neighborhood consists of more than 800 acres of contiguous mature forest. In this forest are spring-fed creeks; a diverse community of plants and animals; and a variety of tall trees, some of which are more than 200 years old.

Some say the forest serves as the "ecological bridge" that connects Warner Parks and Radnor Lake to the surrounding forest community."

A two-mile stretch of the Belle Meade Plantation wall from the 1800's also winds through the neighborhood. Preserving the wall is one of the group's goals.

"It's quite unusual to find that in a city this size," group member Alys Venable said about the forest.

The West Meade Conservancy, she said, is "a grass-roots attempt to preserve something that's unusual and beautiful."

According to the group's Web site, it hopes to work with a developer, Nashville Highlands, to ensure the protection of "a contiguous, unfragmented chunk of forest" near "The Reserve."

Although The Reserve is a residential development in Bellevue, the eastern portion of the property consists of 200 acres of intact mature forest.

"One of the beauties of this group is it's not so much anti-development but pro-preservation," Venable said.

She said the group wants to work "with" developers and not "against" them to accomplish its goals.

Williams said the conservancy is not a formal organization, and there are not dues and no board.

Simply put, she said, "It's run by people who want to be involved."

Venable referred to West Meade resident Noah Charney as "the guiding force" behind the group, which is now chartered and has 125 people on its email list.

"There's a lot of interest in our goals, our mission," said Williams.

"There are so many people who live in this area who love the natural resources."