Legacy Parks Foundation was awarded both a $95,000 NRCS (Natural Resources Conservation Service) Grant under the Farm Bill and a $3,500 TWRA grant for habitat restoration at Seven Islands Wildlife Refuge. This is the largest wildlife oriented grant issued in East Tennessee by the NRCS.
Grant dollars will be used to enhance the habitat and manage the wildlife at Seven Islands, primarily songbirds and butterflies. The following practices are being utilized:
• Developing pollinator habitat by adding flowering plants to attract bumblebees, honeybees, bats and moths.
• Developing native hedgerow by remove existing exotic plants and replanting with native species.
• Planting fields with warm season grasses inter-seeded with legumes for wildlife.
“Rarely does the NRCS get an opportunity in Knox County to work with local land owners to enhance wildlife habitat on such a large tract of land” stated NRCS District Conservationist Amber Johnson. “The work that will be done at Seven Islands can make a huge impact for species of concern such as the Upland Songbirds, the Northern Bob White, Prairie Warbler, Indigo Bunting just to name a few of the birds whose numbers have been in decline. Most people think of deer, turkey and quail when referring to wildlife management, but it’s the secondary species that are in need.”
Seven Islands Wildlife Refuge is East Tennessee’s largest wildlife sanctuary with more than 400 acres of forests and fields, eight miles of natural trails and access to the French Broad River. It is managed through collaboration among Knox County Parks and Recreation, Seven Islands Wildlife Foundation and Legacy Parks Foundation. The sanctuary features a rich natural habitat with over 183 species of birds. The French Broad River, which borders the park, holds over 50 species of fish – more varieties than found on the entire European continent!
While providing a natural habitat for wildlife, Seven Islands awards bird watchers and hikers an impressive passive park for recreation. The sunflower fields are a favorite for both wildlife and visitors and this year the front fields should be showing off in late August to September — mark your calendar!