Sustain Our Nation's Forests and Grasslands

Tract connects public lands in southern Appalachians

Photo: Overlooking Cut Laurel Gap from hilltop. Forests are changing to fall colors. A heavy mist hangs over the valley.
Cut Laurel Gap connects more than 127,000 acres of land from Tennessee to North Carolina. Forest Service photo.

TENNESSEE — The Forest Service partnered with the Land and Water Conservation Fund and the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission to acquire more than 1,680 acres of land known as the Cut Laurel Gap. The land connects more than 127,000 acres of public lands from Cherokee National Forest in Tennessee to Mount Rogers National Recreation Area on the George Washington-Jefferson National Forest in Virginia.

LWCF bought the property in 2013 and transferred 586 acres to the commission with a grant from the state’s Clean Water Management Trust Fund. This fall, the final acreage was transferred for management to the Forest Service with funding from LWCF as well as private contributions.

“This is an outstanding example of how federal, state and private partners can work together to achieve common goals,” said JaSal Morris, forest supervisor of the Cherokee National Forest. “This beautiful and unique tract of land will be a great addition to the Cherokee National Forest.”

Located in both North Carolina and Tennessee, the tract gives an impressive view of three states and many high peaks, including Mount Rogers and Whitetop Mountain in Virginia, as well as Snake Mountain, Elk Knob and Grandfather Mountain in North Carolina.

Cut Laurel Gap features some of the best remaining stream habitat for southern Appalachian brook trout and will eventually be open to the public for recreation, including fishing and hunting for ruffed grouse, turkey, white-tailed deer and black bear.