U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker introduced the Tennessee Wilderness Act to protect areas of the Cherokee National Forest.
Alexander, R-Tenn., said he grew up hiking in the mountains of East Tennessee and that it’s important to conserve beautiful areas of the state to give future generations the same opportunity.
“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,” he also said in a prepared statement.
The Senate version of the Tennessee Wilderness Act would designate nearly 20,000 acres of the Cherokee National Forest as wilderness area, according to a news release.
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.
The legislation would also 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, according to the news release.
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.
“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,” Corker, R-Tenn., said in a prepared statement.
The Senate version of the Tennessee Wilderness Act plans to:
- 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 counties)
- Add 4,446 acres to the Big Laurel Branch Wilderness (Carter and Johnson counties)
- Add 1,836 acres to the Joyce Kilmer–Slickrock Wilderness (Monroe County)
Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., 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 a wilderness area.
“As an avid outdoorsman, I strongly believe we must protect the beautiful lands we’re fortunate to have in East Tennessee,” Roe said in a prepared statement. “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.”
This is the fourth time that Alexander and Corker have introduced this legislation, according to the news release.
For more information about the legislation, click here.