Funds have been released for the construction of the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) as of Aug. 2011. See this press release. From the release: “NEON plans to build 62 sites across the U.S., utilizing cutting-edge technology that will gather and synthesize continental-scale data over 30 years on the impacts of climate change, land use change and invasive species on natural resources and biodiversity. Such information will support the ability to understand and predict environmental change on regional and continental scales.”
There are two NEON sites near UTK: a core site at Walker Branch site at Oak Ridge, and a relocatable site in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. There are several other sites within a day’s drive of campus.