Cherokee National Forest in Tennessee
The Wilderness Society applauds Tennessee's Senators Lamar Alexander’s and Bob Corker’s for reintroducing the Tennessee Wilderness Act on July 15. If passed, the bill would protect nearly 20,000 acres of Cherokee National Forest and create the first new wilderness area in Tennessee in 25 years.
As one of the most biologically diverse temperate forests on earth, the Cherokee National Forest is a haven for hunters, anglers, hikers, recreationists, among others.
The legislation would designate areas of the Cherokee National Forest as wilderness—protecting them from logging, road building and off-road vehicle use. If passed, it would preserve more than 9,000-acres of the Upper Bald Wilderness in Tennessee's Monroe County.
These forests boast hundreds of miles of hiking trails,—including the Benton MacKaye Trail and the Appalachian National Scenic Trail—home to black bears, bobcats, white-tailed deer and grey foxes. The Act would also preserve important sources of water which many animals and communities depend upon. The many tributaries that the Tennessee Wilderness Act protects sustain a lucrative and popular trout fishery and provide shelter for a wide range of endangered fish species—from Smoky madtom to Citico darter.
According to the Outdoor Industry Association, 58% of Tennessee residents participate in outdoor recreation each year, generating $8.2 billion in consumer spending and $2.5 billion in wages and salaries. The Tennessee Wilderness Act will help contribute to this vivacious economy.
“The passage of the Tennessee Wilderness Act will insure that these few but significant areas will be permanently protected for future generations of Tennesseans and all Americans, as well as the future generations of plants and animals that reside within them,” said Brent Martin, Southern Appalachian Regional Director of The Wilderness Society.
Besides the Tennessee Wilderness Act’s guardianship of the area’s immense biodiversity and contribution to the economy, the Act will preserve years of history, heritage and culture.
The Wilderness Society is delighted to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act through Sen. Alexander’s and Sen. Corker’s reintroduction of the Tennessee Wilderness Act.
After stalling in the 111th and 112th Congresses, we are hopeful that the 113th Congress will finally pass the bi-partisan Tennessee Wilderness Act and protect the unique biodiversity this area will bestow for generations to come.