An opportunity has arisen to expand the Urban Wilderness at the William Hastie Nature Area. Twenty-seven acres of wooded land adjoining the wilderness recently became available and the board of the Appalachian Mountain Bike Club acted immediately to enter an agreement to make the purchase with a price of $200,000.
The group began searching for funding to fulfill the contract, and the City of Knoxville, with full support of council, agreed to contribute $100,000 to the cause from their fund designated to parkland acquisition. Matthew Kellogg, Executive Director of the group, said there was some risk involved, but the opportunity was too great to pass up. The group had 90 days to raise the additional $100,000.
The Urban Wilderness includes over 500 acres of wildlife area and over 50 miles of trails and greenways. The trails connect Ijams Nature Center, lakes, quarries, rivers, city parks and an amazing bike park. Many of the trails pulling it all together have been developed and are maintained by the Appalachian Mountain Bike Club. The vast majority of the trails are multi-use, available for walking, running or biking.
The beginning of April marks the final month of the ninety-day period to raise the remaining money and the club is making a final push for the last $30,000 needed to fulfil the contract to purchase the land. Matthew said that Vee Hollow Bike Trails out of Townsend has offered to donated $10,000 if it is matched by other donations, so they are almost to the finish line.
Matthew said the group is confident they will make it to the finish line and they hope to exceed their goal. Any money over the purchase price will go toward design and trail building for the new acquisition. These trails, as with most of the others, will also be multi-use.
He pointed out that the land, situated alongside Margaret Road which dead-ends into the park, has likely been assumed to be a part of the wilderness. Given that, he said if development had taken place on the property, it would have seemed like a true lost opportunity and would have surprised a number of wilderness users.
If you’d like to donate to support this purchase and the work of the Appalachian Mountain Bike Club, you’ll find the page for donations here. You can contact Matthew at Kellogg@ambcknox.org.