Preserving land: Walland couple signs easement to protect 1,048 acres

A family that owns 1,048 acres of forestland in Blount and Sevier counties has entered into an agreement with the Land Trust for Tennessee that permanently protects it from future development.

Julianne and Mark Leonard closed on the deal in 2023. The family has owned the property that includes a residential plot, hiking trails, deep ravines, open spaces, dense forested area and steep rugged terrain for 25 years. It’s in close proximity to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, next to Blackberry Mountain in Walland.

“The way it is now is the way it is going to stay,” said Mark Leonard.

By signing the easement agreement, the Leonards receive a tax incentive for the next 15 years. “The main tax benefit you get is 50% of your taxes back on your adjusted gross income,” he said.

Neighbor Blackberry Mountain consists of 5,200 acres with luxury lodging including cabins, tree houses and cottages, and other adventure opportunities. It is owned by the Beall family, which also owns Blackberry Farm.

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