Senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker and Rep. Phil Roe on Thursday introduced the Tennessee Wilderness Act.
“I grew up hiking the mountains of East Tennessee and conserving some of the most beautiful areas in our state gives future generations of Tennesseans the same sort of opportunity,” Senator Alexander said. “Tennessee is full of history, and this legislation would help protect our state’s heritage while giving the millions of people who visit the state every year an additional reason to come and enjoy the great outdoors.”
Senator Alexander is a member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. He is also chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy & Water Development.
“Millions of people visit Tennessee each year to experience our incredible God-given outdoor amenities, and it’s important that the Cherokee National Forest be preserved for future generations of Americans to enjoy,” said Senator Corker. “I thank Senator Alexander and Representative Roe for their commitment to protecting our wilderness, and I encourage my colleagues to support this legislation.”
"As an avid outdoorsman, I strongly believe we must protect the beautiful lands we’re fortunate to have in East Tennessee. Though these particular lands have been treated as wilderness for more than a decade, it’s important to officially protect them,” Rep. Roe said. “I believe it’s also important that we continue to allow permit holders the ability to hunt and fish on the land, which is why the bill includes specific language to protect these privileges. I’m proud to join Senators Alexander and Corker in this important effort, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to keep Tennessee beautiful for years and generations to come.”
The Senate version of the Tennessee Wilderness Act would designate nearly 20,000 acres of the Cherokee National Forest as wilderness area. The legislation would create one new wilderness area and expand the boundaries of five existing wilderness areas within the Cherokee National Forest. Designation as a wilderness area is the highest level of conservation protection to preserve federal land. Senators Alexander and Corker introduced this legislation in the last four Congresses.
Creating and expanding these wilderness areas would have no effect on privately owned land, and these lands have been managed as wilderness areas since 2004. 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 and will not increase costs for taxpayers. The bill also ensures the state of Tennessee continues to exercise jurisdiction over the fish and wildlife management of the land, protecting permit holders’ ability to hunt and fish.
The Senate version of the Tennessee Wilderness Act would:
- Create the 9,038 acre Upper Bald River Wilderness (Monroe County)
- Add 348 acres to the Big Frog Wilderness (Polk County)
- Add 966 acres to the Little Frog Mountain Wilderness (Polk County)
- Add 2,922 acres to the Sampson Mountain Wilderness (Washington and Unicoi County)
- Add 4,446 acres to the Big Laurel Branch Wilderness (Carter and Johnson County)
- Add 1,836 acres to the Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock Wilderness (Monroe County)
Rep. Roe introduced the Tennessee Wilderness Act in the U.S. House of Representatives, and that legislation would designate nearly 7,500 acres in Tennessee’s First Congressional District as wilderness area.