Before UT’s purchase of the Walland land next to us for its dairy farm, I spent many hours walking in the large forest on the property. The biodiversity there was amazing, with an abundance of large hardwoods and wildflowers. It was home to an enormous number of wildlife species, but their home is now being clear-cut — destroyed.
When the migratory songbirds requiring forest habitat return next spring, 92 acres of forest in which they used to raise their young will be gone.
A video produced by UT states that one goal for this research facility is “to leave this land in better shape than we found it.” Anyone who views the steep barren slopes can clearly see they have not made good on this promise. The serious compaction from the heavy machinery being used will destroy soil structure and fauna, and lead to erosion due to increased runoff. Non-native invasive plant species will colonize the bare soils.
It appears that the research facility underestimated the carrying capacity of the land for the dairy operation, and when they realized it, they decided to clear-cut their forest rather than buy suitable pasture elsewhere. Astonishingly, the facility proceeded without consulting or even notifying the other UT departments, such as forestry, that could have provided expertise and guidance.
It’s clear that this forested land, which provides extremely valuable habitat and other essential ecosystems, is being destroyed for a costly dairy operation that supports an industry that, sadly, is longer economically viable in many states, including Tennessee.
I fail to see how this is any different from the clearing of the Amazon forests for grazing livestock, except in this case they’re clearing for dairy cows instead of beef cattle.
Ellejoy Crossing Way