Alexander: Tennessee Wilderness Act a Good Step Toward Protecting Tennessee’s “Great Outdoors”

Senate committee holds hearing today on legislation to designate 20,000 acres in Cherokee National Forest as wilderness area

Posted on July 16, 2015

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“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.” – Lamar Alexander

WASHINGTON, July 16, 2015 – U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) released the following statement after the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry held a hearing today on the Tennessee Wilderness Act—legislation that would designate nearly 20,000 acres of the Cherokee National Forest as wilderness area:

“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. “The Tennessee Wilderness Act would help protect our natural heritage and give the millions of people who visit Tennessee each year an additional reason to come and enjoy our great outdoors. I want to thank Chairman Roberts for holding today’s hearing.”

The Senate Agriculture Committee is chaired by Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kansas).

The Tennessee Wilderness Act would designate nearly 20,000 acres of the Cherokee National Forest as wilderness area. Alexander introduced legislation earlier this year with Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) that 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. If the legislation were to be approved by the Agriculture Committee this year, it would then be sent to the full Senate for approval.

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 would:

  • Create the 9,038-acre Upper Bald River Wilderness (Monroe County)
  • Add 348 acres to the Big Frog Wilderness (Polk County)
  • Add 966 acres to the Little Frog Wilderness (Polk County)
  • Add 2,922 acres to the Sampson Mountain Wilderness (Washington and Unicoi County)
  • Add 4,446 acres to the Big Laurel Branch Wilderness (Carter and Johnson County)
  • Add 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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 For access to this release and the senator’s other statements, click here.

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