Over the past 5+ years, I have traveled across and up and down the State of Tennessee talking to people about wilderness in the Cherokee National Forest. With the recent reintroduction of the Tennessee Wilderness Act of 2013 (S. 1294) in the United States Senate by Senators Lamar Alexander & Bob Corker, I have been reflecting on the depth & breadth of support for this legislation.
While politics in America is as polarized as I have ever seen, wilderness in Tennessee is our common ground. We have Democrats, Republicans & Independents who support the bill, along with lots of folks who want nothing to do with politics. I've talked to parents & grandparents concerned about their children and grandchildren's future, hoping that they will someday have opportunities to experience their natural inheritance. We have fisherman, hunters, backpackers, hikers, artists, pastors, photographers, water utilities, birders, botanists, county mayors and more who support the bill. We also have scores of businesses who support the bill including outfitters, rafting companies, gun shops, delis, bakeries, and more. Dozens of non-profit groups support the bill including advocates for clean water, open space, paddlers, hikers, and a sustainable environment & economy. Yes, a healthy economy & environment are not mutually exclusive. In fact, they go hand in hand.