Dale Hollow Lake is a federally-managed U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project consisting of 52,000 contiguous acres of upland forest and open water habitat. Over 80% of the forests and waters lie within Tennessee. Fifty percent (26,000 acres) of the project consists primarily of steep gradient, mature oak-hickory and beech-maple forests. The upland forest is contiguous and surrounds 26,000 acres of open water lake habitat. There is 620 miles of shoreline. Over 90% of lake shorelines remain in a pristine, forested, and undisturbed natural condition. The vast majority of the mature upland forest which have not been timbered in over 60 years are located in Tennessee. There is very limited shoreline development (less than 5%) with the exception of 5 major campgrounds/outdoor recreation areas and 14 commercial marinas that are limited to sites previously designated in the lake Master Plan. Over 90% of the shorelines remain in a natural riparian condition. The steep forested hillsides and natural shorelines will continue to be managed and protected in their natural condition. This settling and management philosophy is unique to Dale Hollow in the Cumberland and Tennessee River Valleys.
Dale Hollow's large contiguous tract of forested uplands and undisturbed shorelines provides a unique and significant winter home to Tennessee's second largest population of Bald Eagles (second only to Reelfoot Lake). In addition, the Dale Hollow forest is a large, intact, and exceptional habitat representative of mature deciduous woodland species to include breeding, wintering, and migration seasons for a diversity of neo-tropical migratory bird species. Dale Hollow provides significant habitat for the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (winter), Wood Thrush, Cerulean Warbler (East Obey watershed), and a diversity of other woodland species. The Dale Hollow watershed includes the drainage basins of the East and West Obey Rivers and the Wolf River. These drainage basins are relatively undisturbed, mostly forested, remote, and of rugged terrain. They are contiguous to the forested areas of Standing Stone State Park, the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, Pickett State Forest, and the Daniel Boone National Forest. These areas comprise several hundred thousand acres of ecologically important habitat for numerous neo-tropical migrants and seasonal breeding species. The Dale Hollow watershed is an important link of this regional woodland flyway.
The Cerulean Warbler, a Tennessee In Need of Management species, has been documented the breeding seasons 2002-2004. Dale Hollow Lake's forested hillsides and undisturbed riparian zones support the second largest wintering population of Bald Eagles. There are three active Bald Eagle nests (two of them in Tennessee). There are at least three pairs of Bald Eagles present year-round. The Dale Hollow Lake watershed provides 26,000 acres of contiguous and relatively undisturbed mature deciduous upland forest habitat and lakeside riparian zones. The site supports a diverse complement of woodland species including neo-tropical migrants to include such species as Eastern Wood-Pewee, Acadian Flycatcher, Wood Thrush, Blue-winged Warbler, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler, Pine Warbler, Cerulean Warbler, Black-and-white Warbler, Prothonotary Warbler, Worm-eating Warbler, Ovenbird, Hooded Warbler, etc. This large contiguous tract is an exceptional representative of the mature upland deciduous forest habitat type that is rapidly diminishing in the region and is an important component of the southeastern region's woodland flyway.