The project got started in 2017, when the authority’s board of directors voted unanimously to enter into a carbon development and marketing agreement with Bluesource, a leader in carbon offset development.
Guided by Bluesource’s technical expertise, approximately 100 monitoring plots were established across the 10 miles of Doe Mountain from Mountain City to Watauga Lake to measure the forest’s current carbon storage level.
Gabrielle K. Lynch, director of protection for the Tennessee Chapter of the Nature Conservancy, said the data collected from the monitoring plots provided the base level of carbon storage for the forest.
Lynch said measurements of carbon levels will be gathered from the 100 plots every five years for the next 40 years to determine how much more carbon has been stored by the forest.
In return for this commitment, Bluesource will quantify, market and sell carbon credits on behalf of the authority. These credits would be used by corporations who are voluntarily choosing to offset their businesses’ carbon emissions.
Bluesource uses the American Carbon Registry as a standards body to oversee its work on the project and works closely with a third-party auditor who reviews Bluesource’s carbon calculations. While commercial timber harvesting is prohibited, the minimal removal of trees for trail construction, scenic overlooks, and the DMRA’s usual daily operations is permitted within the agreement. The partnership provides the DMRA a regular income stream for the recreation area’s trail and infrastructure improvements while conserving Doe Mountain’s forests and landscape for future generations.
“I am encouraged by this partnership that will ensure that Doe Mountain will be around for my children and generations to come,” state Rep. Timothy Hill, R-Bluff City, said.
“Doe Mountain is a vital regional asset for Johnson County and an important part of our future. This partnership will create a base of stability for years to come,” state Rep. Jon Lundberg, R-Bristol, said.
“I am extremely excited about this long-term partnership that will ensure a healthy ecological future for Doe Mountain, and vibrant economic growth for Johnson County,” Johnson County Mayor Mike Taylor said.
In a press release issued Thursday, the Doe Mountain Recreation Authority said “the project aims to protect wildlife habitat, promote biodiversity, and sequester atmospheric carbon to mitigate climate change, all while fostering important investments in the local economy.”
The 8,600-acre preserve is a unique landholding for the state and provides 8,600 acres of mountainous woodland for a wide variety of recreational use. Since 2013, the DMRA has operated a multi-use recreational trail system here that draws outdoor enthusiasts from several states, particularly off-highway vehicle use.