Yanahli Wildlife Management Area

"The Yanahli Wildlife Management Area (WMA), within the Duck River watershed, is one of the most diverse destinations in Tennessee.  The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has set aside this magnificent wilderness to be used by everyone from hikers to anglers to hunters to horseback riders to mountain bikers.

"In April 2002, the state of Tennessee transferred 12,600 acres of land near Columbia, Tennessee, to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA).  This land would eventually become the Yanahli WMA.  There are 2,100 acres included as state natural areas.  Yanahli is located in southern Middle Tennessee, about an hour's drive south of Nashville.  It is one of close to 90 WMA's across the state" ("TWRA Trail Ride").  

"A 2004 donation by General Motors to The Nature Conservancy of Tennessee will support that agency's work within the Duck River.  Some of the funds will be used to develop trails, parking, signs and kiosks within the 800 acres of Cheek's Bend in the Yanahli Wildlife Management Area" ("GM Donates to The Nature Conservancy," 2004).  


A Land Of Cultural Heritage
"'Yanahli' is a Chickasaw word meaning "to flow," as in a river.   The name was chosen to reflect the Chickasaw heritage and the tremendous impact the river and the people who lived and camped along it have had on the region.  In the 18th century, the Chickasaw language was the primary language used for inter-tribal communication by all tribes along the lower Mississippi River.

"Evidence of every cultural period in the Southeast has been found along the river--from the end of the last Ice Age through the early statehood of Tennessee.  People have lived, hunted, and farmed along the river for at least 11,000 years.  

"Archaeological investigations conducted by the University of Tennessee under contract with the Tennessee Valley Authority revealed that a pre-historic Indian site at Cheek Bend Cave revealed that small bands of hunters and gatherers had used the cave for over 10,000 years.  (Original Source:  TDEC Division of Archaeology archives.)

"In the late 1800s and early 1900s, settlers moved to the area and began farming the land.  Remnants of mills such as Holland's Mill and Branch's Mill remain as monuments to the lives that were built along the Duck River.  Much of the land through which the Duck River flows today is agricultural, reflecting this long-standing heritage.  

"Columbia and the Duck River were the site of Civil War actions during November and December of 1864.  General John Bell Hood took Columbia during a skirmish with Union Major General John Schofield in November, and Major General Nathan Bedford Forrest defended the river crossings here in December.  (Original Source:  <www.americancivilwar.com>.)

Globally Significant Natural Treasure
"According to The Nature Conservancy, the Upper Duck River watershed, including the section that flows through the new wildlife management area, contains the second highest number (33) of at-risk fish and mussel species, as well as the second highest number (13) of federally endangered fish and mussel species in the nation.  Over 500 species, including aquatic plants, fish and invertebrates, have been documented in the Duck River, including at least 39 mussel and 84 fish species.

"The endangered birdwing pearly mussel is found in great numbers in only the Duck River.  Due to its declining numbers and increasing threats, this small mussel species was listed as endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 1976 and was included on a 1980 list of the 'ten most endangered' species.  (Original Source:  Tennessee Conservationist Magazine.)

"University of Tennessee researchers found that a species of owl had been using the Cheek Bend Cave for up to 16,000 years.  By tracking evidence of changes in the owl's diets over time, the researchers found that the climate of Middle Tennessee 12,000 and 16,000 years ago was similar to modern-day Minnesota, and that the Columbia area was an open, grassy plain, much different from what had been previously believed.  Today, the Duck River flows through forests, cedar glades, and agricultural lands.

The Duck River Complex is a 2,135-acre natural area complex in Maury County that consists of six natural areas within the 12,800-acre Yanahli Wildlife Management Area (WMA). It is managed by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency as a WMA.

Natural areas within the WMA support federal and state-listed species associated with the globally rare Middle Tennessee Cedar Glade and Barrens Ecosystem.These include the Columbia Glade (327-acres), Moores Lane Glade (331-acres), Howard Bridge Glade (321-acres) and Sowell Mill (306-acres).. Rare plants found here include the federally endangered leafy prairie-clover (Dalea foliosa), limestone blue star (Amsonia tabernaemontana var. gattingeri), limestone fame-flower (Talinum calcaricum), Tennessee milk-vetch (Astragalus tennesseensis), Duck River bladderpod (Lesquerella densipila) and glade cress (Leavenworthia exigua var. exigua).

The Rummage Cave site (50 acres) supports a rare woodrat population and the federally endangered gray bat (Myotis grisescens). It is a short horizontal cave that terminates in five successive oval rooms about 15-feet high and 30 feet wide. Cheeks Bend (800-acres) includes high quality representative cedar glades, scenic bluffs overlooking the Duck River, and extensive cedar and hardwood forests.

The importance of the Duck River Complex is also enhanced because of its association with the Duck River State Scenic River. There are thirteen miles of the 30-mile state scenic river corridor that flows through this 12,800-acre public land. The Duck River is noted for rich faunal diversity particularly the several federal endangered mussel species that occur there. These natural areas were designated to assure that federal and state-listed species were protected when TVA transferred the Columbia Dam lands to the State for public use. There is a parking area and a two-mile trail at Cheeks Bend that has bluff vistas.


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Cheeks Bend Bluff View Trail


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