Short Mountain tour set

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A Spring Tour of the Short Mountain Ecotone & its watersheds is set for 9:30 a.m. Saturday, April 16.

Leading the tour will be David Withers, Sunny Fleming and Neal Appelbaum. Tour fee is $10 per person, children 12 and under free.

Registration required by April 6. To register, contact Loretha Leggett at 615-532-0431. General inquiries may be directed to David Withers at 615-532-0441 or

Short Mountain, a remnant piece of the Cumberland Plateau nestled in the escarpment between the Central Basin and Eastern Highland Rim, is a geologic anomaly long considered a very charismatic and sacred part of Cannon County culture and lore. With sandstone, not limestone, at its crest, it contains decidedly different plant and animal communities than the lands surrounding it. It also drains to three different watersheds - the Collins River, Caney Fork River, and East Fork Stones River - the last being the primary source of water for Woodbury and surrounding communities. Recently, portions of the Short Mountain massif were acquired and are now managed as the 1,000-acre Headwaters WMA by the TWRA, with each of the three watersheds represented.

For this spring tour, we will begin atop the mountain at the Short Mountain Bible Camp, learning about the history of the area and its inhabitants, and the significance of the Plateau remnant to water quality of area springs, seeps, and caves. We'll then trek northeast to the headwaters of Clear Fork Creek, where we will make a brief hike to see a beautiful waterfall typical of the shale contact zone between the Central Basin and Eastern Highland Rim. Here we will view a large population of the endemic Short Mountain Crayfish (Cambarus clivosus), presently recorded only from Cannon and Dekalb counties.

From there we'll avail ourselves of the hospitality of friends from North Short Mountain Road, sit on the porch for a time, and learn about the special plants and plant communities in the area. Then we take a leisurely cruise through this lush part of the mountain and move onwards towards the Stones River Road portion of the Headwaters WMA. Here we will learn about TWRA's management of the WMA, and meet the Brawley's Fork Crayfish (Cambarus williami), a state-endangered species known only from the cobbles and cool streams of Cannon County.

With another quick ride we'll move back up to the Eastern Highland Rim and back to the Short Mountain Distillery for a special tour of their grounds and facility. Here we will learn about how the Short Mountain landform supports the local community and economy and is likewise influenced by both. We'll learn about ongoing actions to improve conditions in area watersheds - and how each of us can become further involved.

Following the event all are welcome to tidy up and enjoy lunch (bring your own) on the grounds at the distillery.

David Ian Withers is the staff zoologist with the Tennessee Natural Heritage Program of the Division of Natural Areas, and has been involved with stream surveys, environmental review, and crayfish inventory in the East Fork Stones River watershed since the mid-1990's.

Sunny Fleming is a Natural Heritage biologist with the Division of Natural Areas and focuses primarily on rare plants of state and federal concern. Much of her work in recent years concerns rare and endemic plant species from the cedar glades and barrens of middle Tennessee.

Neal Appelbaum is a Cannon County resident, advocate, and past president of the Stones River Watershed Association (SRWA). He currently serves on the board of the SRWA and in 2014 became the Executive Director of the Arts Center of Cannon County.

This multi-stop route will begin and end at the upper limits of three watersheds on Short Mountain. Participants should wear sturdy shoes or boots you don't mind getting wet, and bring along some dry clothes and footwear as well. Although not required, attendees may also wish to bring a notebook and pencil, a hand lens or magnifying glass, and camera. You can address specific questions about the outing to Don't forget to BYO lunch and water!

Transportation will be provided and this event is limited to the first 20 registrants. Pick up and drop off will occur at the Short Mountain Distillery, 8280 Short Mountain Rd, Woodbury, TN 37190. Pick up and orientation will occur at 9:30 AM CT.

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