USDA Forest Service Questions & Answers             


USDA Forest Service – Cherokee National Forest – May, 2015

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The Cherokee National Forest covers 650,000 acres in ten east Tennessee counties. It is managed by the USDA Forest Service to provide wood, water, forage, wildlife and recreation to the nation.  The Forest Service strives to sustain and enhance various management activities and recreation opportunities while conserving, protecting and enhancing our natural resources.

Periodically, questions arise concerning various aspects of national forest management.  Individuals, groups and organizations may request clarification or need more information about the national forest and ask questions.  The Forest Service welcomes questions and the opportunity to interact with those interested in the national forest.

Questions range from being general in nature to being specific about a particular area or project.  Following are three questions that have recently been asked:

Question 1: Can you hunt and fish in a federally designated Wilderness Area?  

Answer: Yes, hunting and fishing are permitted in designated Wilderness Areas and in Wilderness Study Areas. They are both recognized as important recreational activities that are appropriate uses of wilderness areas.

 Motorized equipment and equipment used for mechanical transport is generally prohibited on all federal lands designated as wilderness (wheel chairs are permitted). This includes the use of motor vehicles, motorboats, motorized equipment, bicycles, hang gliders, wagons, carts, portage wheels, and the landing of aircraft including helicopters, unless provided for in specific legislation.

 Question 2: How much designated wilderness exists in Cherokee National Forest?

 Answer: There are 11 federally designated wildernesses in Cherokee National Forest covering approximately 66,600 acres. The Cherokee National Forest covers over 650,000 acres in ten east Tennessee counties.

 Question 3:  Is the Bald River Road (NFSR 126) in the Tellico Ranger District (Monroe County) being closed, or will it be closed to public access?

Answer: No – National Forest System Road 126 (Bald River Road) provides access to several trails, Holly Flats Campground and to hunting and fishing areas.  The road is located between the Bald River Gorge Wilderness and the Upper Bald River Gorge Wilderness Study Area. This road is not, nor will it be in designated wilderness.  There are no plans to close the road now or in the future.


The Forest Service mission is captured by the phrase “Caring for the Land and Serving People.” The agency’s mission, as set forth by law, is to achieve quality land management under the sustainable multiple-use management concept to meet the diverse needs of people.  An important part of the Forest Service mission is listening to people and responding to their diverse needs in making decisions.

The Cherokee National Forest (Forest) is a special place to many people for many reasons.  Balancing the various needs of a wide variety of national forest users is a challenge.  Partnerships and collaboration are a vital part of natural resource management.  Asking questions to gain an understanding of national forest management is an important aspect of continuing to sustain and enhance our public land and its resources now and in the future.

If you have a question regarding the Cherokee National Forest please contact an office near you:

Forest Supervisor’s Office
2800 Ocoee Street N.
Cleveland, TN 37311
Phone: 423-476-9700

 Watauga Ranger District
4400 Unicoi Drive
Unicoi, TN 37692
Phone: 423-735-1500

 Unaka Ranger District
4900 Asheville HWY SR 70
Greeneville, TN 37743
Phone: 423-638-4109

Tellico Ranger District
250 Ranger Station Road
Tellico Plains, TN 37385
Phone: 423-253-8400

Ocoee Ranger District
3171 HWY 64
Benton, TN 37307-5823
Phone: 423-338-3300