U.S. Senators Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today announced that the Fiscal Year 2007 Interior and Related Agencies Appropriations bill, which was approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee yesterday, includes significant funding for Tennessee parks, forests and conservation programs. Funding for a number of critical water infrastructure projects was also included in the bill.
“Remaining conscientious caretakers of our environment is crucial to allowing future generations of Tennesseans to enjoy our state’s natural beauty,” Frist said. “This legislation makes an important investment in our state’s parks and forests. In addition to preserving our natural resources, the bill also provides critical funding for Tennessee’s water infrastructure. I’m proud to have worked with Senator Alexander to secure support for these efforts.”
“Having places to enjoy the outdoors is an important part of what makes Tennessee a great place to live and to visit,” Alexander said. “This bill invests in preserving our parks, forests, and heritage and recreation areas. From the mountains in East Tennessee to the Cumberland Plateau to the Mississippi River, this legislation supports important local efforts throughout the state. Senator Frist and I will continue to work to ensure these critical Tennessee needs receive appropriate federal assistance.”
Funding for specific Tennessee initiatives includes:
-$500,000 for the Great Smoky Mountains to support the Tapoco Land Exchange. The proposed 627-acre NPS acquisition lies within 10,000 acres encompassing the Tallassee Creek watershed.
-$750,000 for the Great Smoky Mountains to support the Twin Creeks Science Center. This funding will be used for lab instrumentation, mapping equipment and other operational needs.
-$500,000 for the Hallsdale-Powell Utility District’s Beaver Creek Watershed. The requested funds will be used to restore habitat and improve water quality along Beaver Creek. The Beaver Creek Watershed is approximately 25 miles long and is located within one of the fastest growing counties in East Tennessee.
-$1 million for the Chattanooga Air Tanker Base. This funding is used to support the Forest Service’s efforts through the National Fire Plan to construct a new modern tanker base.
-$1.1 million for the Cherokee National Forest for facilities relocation and forest administration.
-$500,000 for the Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area. The Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area is a statewide partnership between the National Park Service and Middle Tennessee State University.
-$500,000 for Franklin County’s Keith Springs Water Line Extension.
-$100,000 for Belle Meade Plantation, which is a 30-acre nationally significant historic site in Nashville. This funding will be matched by private dollars and used to renovate this historic site.
-$500,000 to support the Mississippi, Arkansas, Tennessee Regional Aquifer Study (MATRAS) through the U.S. Geological Survey.
-$6.95 million for the U.S. Forest Service International Program, which supports a number of conservation programs at the Memphis Zoo.
The legislation must now be considered and approved by the full United States Senate.
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