For Immediate Release
Contact: Jeff Hunter (423) 322-7866
Chattanooga, TN - Tennessee Wild, a broad coalition of conservation organizations cheered the Senate Energy and Natural Resources committee today for approving the Tennessee Wilderness Act, making it eligible for a vote on the Senate floor.
The legislation which was introduced in late May by Senators Alexander and Corker will protect nearly 20,000 acres of wilderness on the Cherokee National Forest by expanding five existing wilderness areas and creating the brand new Upper Bald River Wilderness. All of this is accomplished without expense to the taxpayer. A hearing on the bill was held in early August.
"It's exciting that the bill has taken this critical step towards passage," said Jeff Hunter, Tennessee Wild campaign director. "We are blessed to have such amazing wild areas in our state; however no wilderness has been designated in Tennessee for the last 25 years. Let's not hold off on this any longer."
Supported by hikers, hunters, business owners, local lawmakers, members of the faith community and conservationists, the Tennessee Wilderness Act will protect portions of the beloved Appalachian and Benton MacKaye trails and critical habitat for both game and non-game wildlife.
"Protecting portions of the Cherokee as wilderness will help sustain local economies, keep drinking water clean and ensure that future generations will be able to enjoy Tennessee's most wild places," added Hunter. "We thank the Senators for their efforts to move this bill quickly and hope to see passage soon."
Tennessee Wild is dedicated to protecting wilderness on the Cherokee National Forest for the benefit and enjoyment of current and future generations. We aim to educate the public about the benefits of wilderness and promote volunteerism and the sound stewardship of Tennessee's wild places.