The Oak Ridge Reservation (ORR) borders on Melton Hill Lake and the Clinch River and is traversed by the East Fork Poplar Creek and Bear Creek. Land cover consists of the following: Urban [Department of Energy (DOE) facilities and roads] 3,550 acres (10%); Transitional lands, i.e. old fields, pastures, utility ROWs, roadsides 6,750 acres (20%); and Forested lands 23,600 acres (70%), consisting of the following types, a) Mature upland deciduous forest, principally oak-hickory 9,850 acres (29%); b) Mixed pine-deciduous forest, principally shortleaf pine-oak hickory 8,500 acres (25%); c) Beetle-killed pine forests, now successional scrub 3,250 acres (10%); d) Pine forests and plantations, Loblolly Pine and Virginia Pine 2,000 acres (6%); and e) Barrens 47 acres (<1%).
The Oak Ridge Reservation has large expanses of mature hardwood forest, unbroken by development or farmland; brushy corridors and cutover forest; abandoned pastures; grasslands; cedar glades and barrens; and wetlands. These habitats makes the ORR attractive to a large and diverse number of species. Nearly 200 species have been documented. In Need of Management species observed include Bald Eagle, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Golden-winged Warbler, Cerulean Warbler, Henslow's Sparrow.
Forested areas present significant sites for migrating and breeding woodland neotropicals. Out of 27 species determined to be of top conservation priority in the region by Partners in Flight, 23 species are present on the reservation during the breeding season. The brushy areas, and cedar glades and barrens on the reservation have become limited elsewhere because of the replacement of native warm-season grasses, such as Big Bluestem, Little Bluestem, Indian Grass, and Broomsedge, with non-native pasture grasses such as fescue. Cedar glades and barrens are becoming rare habitats, but on the ORR they are relatively abundant on exposed limestone in small, drought-prone forest openings. Of special note is the Three Bend Scenic and Wildlife Refuge designated to preserve some of the reservation's unique habitats and wildlife. This 3,000-acre area with three peninsulas (20 miles of Melton Hill Lake shoreline) is being managed and protected through a cooperative arrangement between the Department Of Energy and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. Also, the Black Oak Ridge Conservation Easement (BORCE), a 3,000-acre tract on the ORR that the Department of Energy has set aside for wildlife conservation under an agreement with the State of Tennessee.