Alexander, Corker: Tennessee Wilderness Act Would Preserve Nearly 20,000 Acres in Cherokee National Forest

Legislation would protect publicly owned land in East Tennessee for future generations to enjoy

Posted on March 17, 2015

WASHINGTON, March 17, 2015 - U.S. Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) today introduced the Tennessee Wilderness Act that would designate nearly 20,000 acres in six areas of the Cherokee National Forest as wilderness areas.

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

“Millions of people visit Tennessee every year to experience our incredible God-given outdoors, and this legislation would ensure the Cherokee National Forest is preserved for future generations,” said Corker. “I thank Senator Alexander for his lifelong commitment to protecting wilderness areas, and I’m hopeful Congress will consider and pass this legislation in the near future.” 

This 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 introduced this legislation in the last three Congresses. In the last Congress, the legislation was approved both by the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee and the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry Committee, 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 will not increase costs for taxpayers. 

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)

Alexander is a member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. He is also chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy & Water Development.

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