CEDARS OF LEBANON STATE FOREST
CEDARS OF LEBANON STATE FOREST
The Forest is located in the Central Basin of Tennessee in the southern part of Wilson County. The forest is approximately 15 miles east of Nashville. This forest originated from the Resettlement Administration Program in 1935. Tenn. Dept. of Agriculture, Forestry Division assumed responsibility for the Forest in 1955. Before purchase by the Resettlement Administration, numerous landowners with small acreage held the land. Land use was for row crops, pasture, and forests. The farmland was impoverished by erosion and the forestland was heavily cut, burned over, and damaged by grazing. The forest is of Natural Heritage significance because it is part of the largest contiguous cedar glade-barren complex in public ownership in middle Tennessee. About 14% of the area is designated a Tennessee Natural Resource Area and contains at least two threatened or endangered plant species. The forest contains a Natural Area (1,034 acres), a state park (831 acres), several in-holdings (304 acres), 6 cemeteries, and 1 cave. The majority (85%) of the area is classified as forestland. Eastern red cedar is the predominant species and is found in pure stands on the very poor soils. On deeper soils and better sites it is found mixed in with hardwoods. No timber harvest activities have occurred, presently, on the forest. The exception is a few salvage cuts as a result of pine mortality from the southern pine beetle. The forest has been highly degraded and eroded by high Off Highway Vehicle use. As a result, OHVs have been prohibited, resulting in management and enforcement challenges for TDOA, FD. Hunting has been and continues to be a traditional use of the forest.
Cedars of Lebanon State Forest is located in Wilson County, Tennessee. Its history dates back to the early 1800s when settlers first arrived in the area. The forest's name comes from the abundance of Eastern Red Cedar trees (Juniperus Virginiana) found across the region.
The forest has been shaped by various historical events and activities. In the early 1800s, the land was primarily used for farming and livestock grazing. However, due to the thin, rocky soil and the harsh climate, it was not ideal for agriculture, and many farmers eventually abandoned their efforts.
Around the same time, the forest's unique cedar glades ecosystem was discovered. Cedar glades are globally rare and occur in only a few places worldwide. These glades are characterized by thin, rocky soils with shallow depressions and an abundance of Eastern Red Cedars. This unique combination of factors allows for a diverse range of plant species to thrive, some of which are found nowhere else in the world.
As Tennessee's population grew in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the cedar trees within the forest were heavily harvested for various purposes, such as the production of cedar posts and fence rails. This extensive logging greatly depleted the forest's cedar population.
In 1955, the state of Tennessee established Cedars of Lebanon State Park, which included the state forest. The park's purpose was to preserve and protect the remaining cedar glades and promote recreation in the area. In the following years, the forest underwent reforestation efforts, including the planting of pine trees and other species to restore the wooded areas that were previously cleared.
1. Cedars of Lebanon State Park Campground offers 117 campsites with picnic tables, grills and electric/water hookups.
2. Backcountry camping is allowed within designated areas for a more rustic experience.
3. Group camp facilities are available accommodating up to 80 people each in three separate locations.
4. The park also provides nine cabins fully equipped with modern amenities for those seeking comfort while enjoying nature.
5. Horse stables offer equestrian camping options including access to horse trails throughout the forest area.