Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tn.) and Bob Corker (R-Tn.) on Monday introduced the Tennessee Wilderness Act of 2013, which would designate as wilderness nearly 20,000 acres in six areas of the Cherokee National Forest.
Senator Alexander said, “I grew up hiking the mountains of East Tennessee, and conserving these areas gives future generations of Tennesseans the same sort of opportunity. This legislation takes important steps toward protecting our natural heritage, and gives the millions of people who visit Tennessee each year an additional reason to come and enjoy our outdoors.”
Senator Corker said, “I think Tennesseans take great pride in the fact that millions of people visit our state every year to experience our incredible God-given amenities. I thank Senator Alexander for his lifelong commitment to protecting wilderness areas and am proud to join him in this effort to preserve Cherokee National Forest for future generations of Tennesseans and Americans to enjoy.”
“This is unfinished business that needs to get done,” said Jeff Hunter with Tennessee Wild, the coalition working to protect the Cherokee National Forest. “The people of Tennessee overwhelmingly support protecting the Cherokee and we are thankful to Senators Alexander and Corker for their continued commitment to preserving our great natural wonders. We will continue to work with the delegation on this legislation and are hopeful that the areas will be protected soon for future generations to enjoy.”
The legislation would create one new wilderness area, and expand the boundaries of five existing wilderness areas, within the Cherokee National Forest. The new wilderness area would be the Upper Bald River Wilderness, which is more than 9,000 acres in Monroe County.
Creating and expanding these wilderness areas would have no effect on privately-owned land. The legislation would preserve access to federally owned land that has already been made part of existing Wilderness Study Areas by the U.S. Forest Service.
The Tennessee Wilderness Act of 2013:
- Creates the 9,038-acre Upper Bald River Wilderness (Monroe County)
- Adds 348 acres to the Big Frog Wilderness (Polk County)
- Adds 966 acres to the Little Frog Wilderness (Polk County)
- Adds 2,922 acres to the Sampson Mountain Wilderness (Washington and Unicoi County)
- Adds 4,446 acres to the Big Laurel Branch Wilderness (Carter and Johnson County)
- Adds 1,836 acres to the Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock Wilderness (Monroe County)