Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) on Thursday said the Tennessee Wilderness Act is “on the way to becoming law,” after it passed the Senate as a provision in the farm bill.
Senator Alexander said, “The United States Senate today passed the Tennessee Wilderness Act, and it's on its way to becoming law. My hope is that when the Senate and the House get together and reconcile their differences in the farm bill, they'll send it to President Trump with the Tennessee Wilderness Act and then he will sign it.
“This is 20,000 acres in East Tennessee that's already managed as wilderness, but not made a part of the wilderness law.
This is wonderful land that Tennesseans can use to camp and hike in our beautiful East Tennessee mountains. I thank Senator Corker and Congressman Roe and the many Tennesseans who've gotten in touch with us about making the Tennessee Wilderness Act law.”
Senator Corker said, “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. I thank Senator Alexander and Representative Roe for their commitment to protecting our wilderness and encourage the conference committee between the House and Senate to include the Tennessee Wilderness Act in the final farm bill.”
The Tennessee Wilderness Act – legislation introduced by Senators Alexander and Corker as well as U.S. Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.) – would designate nearly 20,000 acres of the Cherokee National Forest as wilderness area. Designation as a wilderness area is the highest level of conservation protection to preserve federal land.
The legislation was included in the farm bill the Senate passed today. The U.S. House of Representatives and Senate will now work to produce a conferenced farm bill that will include the Tennessee Wilderness Act to send to the president’s desk so it can be signed into law.
The Tennessee Wilderness Act has broad support in the state, officials said:
Dawson Wheeler, co-founder of Rock/Creek Outfitters, Chattanooga:
“I’m pleased to see Senator Alexander and Senator Corker’s hard work pay off. Wilderness designation would protect some of our state’s most beautiful areas. These landscapes attract tourists that shop in our stores, eat in our restaurants, stay in our hotels, and help drive our economy forward, to the tune of $12 billion spent on outdoor recreation in Tennessee each year. Passage of the Senate Farm Bill is something we should all applaud.”
Laura Hodge, campaign coordinator of Tennessee Wild:
“We applaud the Senate’s passage of the Farm Bill, and are grateful to Senator Alexander and Senator Corker for all they did to ensure that protections for critical Tennessee watersheds and wildlife habitat were included in it. The Cherokee National Forest is a special place for hikers, hunters, campers, and paddlers, all of whom will be very grateful to our senators for this big step forward in preserving our big backyard.”
John Sterling, executive director of The Conservation Alliance:
“We applaud Senator Alexander and Senator Corker for their persistence in developing and moving legislation to protect 20,000 acres of Wilderness in Tennessee. These lands, which include stretches of the Appalachian Trail, are important for outdoor recreation, and for our member companies.”
Jill Gottesman, conservation specialist at The Wilderness Society:
“We appreciate the leadership of Senator Alexander and Senator Corker who for many years have backed legislation to protect these remarkable wild pockets of the Cherokee National Forest. These public lands need wilderness protection to preserve essential wildlife habitat and biodiversity and also provide priceless opportunities for future generations of Americans to enjoy the rich natural heritage of East Tennessee.”