Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Area News

April 24, 2014

City OKs HCP contract extension

CROSSVILLE — While a small group of people have opposed the Cumberland Habitat Conservation Plan process, a majority of city council members voted to extend the contract to continue the development of the plan for at least an additional year.

The city of Crossville first entered into a liaison contract with the Nature Conservancy in 2010 to begin development of the plan. The plan has been discussed back as far as 2007. The contract provides for reimbursement of salaries of city employees for work they do on the plan preparation.

A habitat conservation plan (HCP) is a way to integrate use and conservation of natural resources associated with threatened and/or endangered species. The Endangered Species Act prohibits the harm (also called a take) of such a species or their habitat. Through an incidental take permit, an HCP becomes a partnership between a resource user and the Fish and Wildlife Service that allows resources to be used and the take to occur, as long as the species impacts of the take are mitigated and minimized through an approved HCP.

At least six endangered species have been documented on the Cumberland Plateau that have the potential to restrict or stop future development without the HCP.

The council has had several recent meetings in which the HCP has been discussed and a few local residents have spoken out against the HCP.

City Manager David Rutherford told the council they were being asked to accept reimbursement for work city employees have performed. Rutherford said the city is probably a year and a half away from having the completed plan. That plan would be brought back to the council for their approval or disapproval once it is complete.

A motion to extend the contract was made by Councilman Danny Wyatt and seconded by Mayor J.H. Graham III.

Councilman Pete Souza said he was not going to support the motion, even though it does have merit. He was concerned about the city being involved with the Fish and Wildlife Service outside of the city growth boundary and he said the county should be involved.

The motion passed with Graham, Wyatt and Councilman George Marlow voting in favor while Souza and Councilman Jesse Kerley were opposed.

It was announced at the council meeting that the city of Crossville will be holding four outdoor concerts at the Spirit Broadband Amphitheater over the summer. The programs will be free to the public and dates and artists will be announced soon.

Graham presented the student of the month award plaque for April to Bo Wattenbarger, a kindergarten student from Martin Elementary School. Bo was recognized for his representation of citizenship for using please and thank you as well as running errands of his teacher and the respect he gives to the school staff. Bo was accompanied by many of his family members.

National Service Recognition Day was also proclaimed by Graham and programs of volunteers including the Foster Grandparents Program and the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program serve a variety of nonprofit groups, including Head Start programs, the Red Cross and several other local programs. The Corporation for National and Community Service oversees the programs and volunteers.

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