Knoxville News Sentinel: Alexander, Corker refile Tennessee Wilderness Act

Posted on March 17, 2015

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker will try again to designate nearly 20,000 acres of the Cherokee National Forest as wilderness areas.

The two Tennesseans refiled legislation Tuesday that would create one new wilderness area in the forest and expand the boundaries of five existing wilderness areas. Designation of wilderness areas is the highest level of conservation protection to preserve land.

“I grew up hiking the mountains of East Tennessee, and conserving what are some of the wildest, most pristine and beautiful areas in our state gives future generations of Tennesseans the same sort of opportunity,” said Alexander, a Maryville Republican.

“This legislation takes important steps toward protecting our national heritage and gives the millions of people who visit Tennessee each year an additional reason to come and enjoy our outdoors.”

Alexander and Corker have introduced the legislation, called the Tennessee Wilderness Act, in the last three Congresses. The bill was approved by two key committees last year, but did not get a vote on the Senate floor.

“Millions of people visit Tennessee every year to experience our God-given outdoors,” Corker said, “and this legislation would ensure the Cherokee National Forest is preserved for future generations.”

The forest currently contains about 66,000 acres of wilderness designated by Congress a quarter-century ago.