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    Gratitude for Peacefulness of Tennessee Land Leads to Permanent Protection

    When Donna-Jean Walker purchased fifteen acres in Jackson, Tennessee, she was seeking a peaceful place where she could relax and feel close to nature during her retirement years. “Coming here was my way to get away from stress,” she says of her land. “Sometimes I like to just sit on a log in the woods and meditate. It’s just quiet.” When fifteen acres adjacent to her property became available, she purchased the land to ensure that it remained natural habitat.

    Initially, a 1,000-acre stretch of wilderness bordering Walker’s land helped to create a sense of the property being a protected retreat. But soon that property was sold to a developer, and for a time, all seemed lost for Walker and neighbors who loved the wilderness feel of the area. Fortunately—for Walker and for wildlife—the developer went bankrupt before developing the property, and the land was offered for sale.

    Before another developer had a chance to come along, Walker and her neighbors sprang into action. Among them, they managed to buy 600 of the 1,000 acres, and they signed a pact not to develop the individual properties other than possibly putting one structure on each. Walker purchased 150 of the acres bordering her property and immediately set out to find a way of permanently protecting all 165 acres of land that she had added to her original property as a sanctuary for wildlife.

    It is, indeed, a peaceful and perfect home for wildlife. Bobcats pad secretively through the underbrush, while wild turkeys nonchalantly strut their stuff. Walker hears the calls of coyotes at night, she sees deer with their fawns in her yard, and she watches blue herons hunting in her two ponds and hawks soaring overhead.

    In fact, the sanctuary is so idyllic for wildlife that Walker invites a local wildlife rehabilitator to use it as a safe release site for patients she has nurtured back to health. Among the animals who have been given safe sanctuary here after treatment are five young raccoon siblings, opossums, and gray foxes.

    Walker had long been a supporter of The Humane Society of the United States, so when she began searching for a land trust, she was specifically looking for one that would protect both the land and the wildlife. Her decision was sealed when she found that the Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust was the only land trust that actually focuses on saving animals.

    Symbiotic relationships abound in nature, multiplying and amplifying the beauty and wonder around us. Here, too, in Walker’s relationship with her land, there is a beautiful symbiosis. The land and wildlife that are giving her the peaceful life she was seeking are, in turn, being spared from human-caused harm and exploitation—forever—because of her compassion and careful planning.


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