Congress urged to pass Wilderness Act

Knoxville News Sentinel
Jimmy Groton
April 7, 2016

It is not often that you pick up the newspaper and agree wholeheartedly with something you read. Well, that is how I felt after reading Jeff Hunter’s guest column, “The Tennessee Wilderness Act should be law.”

For nearly eight years, U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker have been introducing the Tennessee Wilderness Act, which would safeguard roughly 20,000 acres of the Cherokee National Forest as wilderness. Recently, Rep. Phil Roe introduced similar legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives, and I agree that he should be commended. I wish that Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, who represents my district, would also support the Tennessee Wilderness Act.

As we look toward Earth Day on April 22, I think about what a gem we have in the Cherokee National Forest. This special place is a wildlife haven featuring brook trout, black bear, turkey, white-tailed deer and many other species of plants and animals. The forest also provides clean drinking water for Northeast Tennessee and the millions of people who live downstream. It is our responsibility to protect it for future generations to enjoy.

As Hunter pointed out, passing the Tennessee Wilderness Act will preserve miles of the Appalachian Trail. Along with this cultural, natural and historical landmark, it will also ensure that people can always come to the Cherokee to hike, hunt, fish, paddle, camp and ride horses. These activities support our local economy through sustainable and long-term outdoor recreation and tourism jobs.

With Congress in session less than 110 days this year, the clock is ticking. I join Hunter in urging Congress to follow Alexander, Corker and Roe’s leads and pass the Tennessee Wilderness Act.

Jimmy Groton, Oak Ridge

 

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