Alexander, Corker, Roe: New Law Protects 20,000 East Tennessee Wilderness Acres

Posted on December 20, 2018

WASHINGTON, December 20, 2018 – United States Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Representative Phil Roe (R-Tenn.) said a new law signed today by President Trump will protect 20,000 East Tennessee wilderness acres.

“Today, President Trump signed into law the Tennessee Wilderness Act. The new law will protect 20,000 acres of federal land in the Cherokee National Forest as ‘wilderness,’ where we can roam and enjoy nature,” Alexander said. “This is land in East Tennessee that's already managed as wilderness, but not made a part of the wilderness law. Designation as wilderness will not only better protect ecosystems and watersheds, but also benefit the diverse recreational value of these areas, which is a major part of East Tennessee’s economy. I thank Senator Corker, Congressman Roe and the many Tennesseans who’ve gotten in touch with us about making the Tennessee Wilderness Act law, and I’m glad President Trump made it law today.”

“Millions of people visit Tennessee each year to experience our incredible God-given outdoor amenities, and it’s important that the Cherokee National Forest be preserved for future generations of Americans to enjoy,” said Corker. “I thank Senator Alexander and Representative Roe for their commitment to protecting our wilderness and am glad to see the Tennessee Wilderness Act signed into law.”

“I am very pleased to see President Trump sign the Tennessee Wilderness Act into law today as a part of the 2018 Farm Bill,” Roe said. “I am fortunate to represent a district blessed with natural beauty, and as an avid outdoorsman, I strongly believe we must protect the beautiful lands we have in East Tennessee. This legislation will ensure protection for Big Laurel Branch in Carter and Johnson Counties and Sampson Mountain in Washington and Unicoi Counties for generations to come. I was very proud to join Senator Alexander and Corker in this important effort, and I want to thank President Trump for signing it into law.”

The Tennessee Wilderness Act – legislation introduced by Alexander, Corker and Roe – will designate nearly 20,000 acres of the Cherokee National Forest as wilderness area. Designation as a wilderness area is the highest level of conservation protection to preserve federal land. The legislation was included in the Farm bill the Senate passed on December 11. The House passed the legislation on December 12, and today, President Trump signed it into law.

The Tennessee Wilderness Act has broad support in the state: 

“Tennessee has a big backyard, and outdoor recreation generates $21.6 billion in consumer spending while supporting 188,000 jobs in the state. I applaud Senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker and Congressman Phil Roe for understanding the direct benefits that wilderness provides to our local businesses and communities.”

-         Vesna Plakanis, owner of A Walk in the Woods

“Hunting and fishing in our local forests and streams is a part of our identity, and it is important to preserve that heritage. The Tennessee Wilderness Act will preserve critical wildlife habitat every sportsman depends upon.  I want to thank Senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker and Congressman Phil Roe for protecting our way of life.”

-         Ian Rutter, owner of R&R Fly Fishing in Eastern Tennessee

“The Tennessee Wild Coalition is thrilled to see the Tennessee Wilderness Act included in the Farm Bill. These protections are decades in the making, and we want to thank Senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker and Congressman Phil Roe for their steadfast leadership in preserving this piece of the Cherokee National Forest in Northeast Tennessee.”

-         Laura Hodge, campaign coordinator for the Tennessee Wild Coalition

“We applaud the U.S. Senate for voting to protect these natural treasures for future generations to enjoy. Once President Trump signs the measure designating this land as wilderness—the strongest protection available for public lands—the law will help conserve critical wildlife habitat and corridors, support local cities and towns that rely on the outdoor recreation economy, and ensure that hunting, hiking, camping, and fishing will continue in the region.”

-         John Gilroy, Director, U.S. Public Lands, The Pew Charitable Trusts

“We are excited by the culmination of this long campaign to protect some of the last great wild places in the South.  A success like this requires a collaborative effort of organizations, elected officials and citizens working together for a greater cause, which is a testament to just how special these places are.”

-         Sam Evans, National Forest and Parks Program Leader for the Southern Environmental Law Center

"Being a good steward of Cherokee National Forest means taking care of God’s creation for future generations. For many, wilderness is seen as a place where people draw closer to God. I am forever grateful to our bill’s cosponsors and find comfort in knowing this everlasting resource will be here for years to come.”

-         Jeff Wadley, a pastor in Maryville

“There is no better way end 2018 than passing the Tennessee Wilderness Act. As a veteran, our public lands and waters are sometimes our best therapy. It is where we can go to reconnect with our family and friends, and gain strength and resiliency from the awe and challenges of nature. I want to thank Senators Alexander and Corker and Congressman Roe for standing with America’s veterans in preserving our great outdoors.”

-         Will Skelton, a veteran and advocate who worked on the last piece of Tennessee’s wilderness legislation in the 1980s


Lamar Alexander is the senior senator from Tennessee, and he serves as chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, and the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development. For his full biography, click here.