Maryville Daily Times: Alexander, Corker: Tennessee Wilderness Act would preserve nearly 20,000 acres in Cherokee National Forest

Posted on March 18, 2015

WASHINGTON — Tennessee’s U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker have again introduced the Tennessee Wilderness Act that would designate nearly 20,000 acres in six areas of the Cherokee National Forest as wilderness areas.

The legislation would create one new wilderness area, and expand the boundaries of five existing wilderness areas, within the Cherokee National Forest. Designation as a wilderness area is the highest level of conservation protection to preserve federal land.

Alexander and Corker, both Republicans, have introduced this legislation in the last three Congresses. In the last Congress, the legislation was approved two Senate committees, but was not considered on the Senate floor.

Creating and expanding these wilderness areas would have no effect on privately owned land, and these lands have been managed as wilderness areas since 2004. The legislation would preserve access to federally owned land that has already been made part of existing Wilderness Study Areas by the U.S. Forest Service and would not increase costs for taxpayers, Corker and Alexander said in a news release.

The Tennessee Wilderness Act:

• Creates the 9,038-acre Upper Bald River Wilderness (Monroe County)

• Adds 348 acres to the Big Frog Wilderness (Polk County)

• Adds 966 acres to the Little Frog Wilderness (Polk County)

• Adds 2,922 acres to the Sampson Mountain Wilderness (Washington and Unicoi County)

• Adds 4,446 acres to the Big Laurel Branch Wilderness (Carter and Johnson County)

• Adds 1,836 acres to the Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock Wilderness (Monroe County)