Alexander, Corker Introduce Bill to Protect 20,000 Acres of Cherokee National Forest

Wilderness Status Designation Key to “Protecting the Natural Heritage” of Tennessee

Posted on June 2, 2011

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) recently introduced the Tennessee Wilderness Act of 2011 to designate as wilderness nearly 20,000 acres in six areas of the Cherokee National Forest that have for several years been managed as Wilderness Study Areas and are recommended for wilderness status by the U.S. Forest Service.

“I grew up hiking the mountains of East Tennessee, and I know that if we conserve these wildlife areas and preserve these landscapes, we’ll give the next generations the same opportunity,” Alexander said. “This bill takes an important step toward protecting the natural heritage that is so important to Tennesseans and the millions of tourists who visit each year looking to experience pristine nature for themselves.”

“We are blessed in East Tennessee with God-given amenities and an unparalleled natural environment, and the Cherokee National Forest is a prime example,” Corker said. “I thank Senator Alexander for his lifelong commitment to protecting scenic wilderness areas and am proud to join him in this effort to preserve Cherokee National Forest for future generations of Tennesseans and Americans to enjoy.”

These areas were recommended for wilderness status by the U.S. Forest Service in the development of its comprehensive 2004 forest plan and have been managed as Wilderness Study Areas since that time (a map of the proposed wilderness areas within the Cherokee National Forest can be found here).

Congress began protecting wilderness areas in the Cherokee National Forest in 1975, with additional wilderness areas established by the Tennessee Wilderness Acts of 1984 and 1986. 

The Tennessee Wilderness Act of 2011 creates one new wilderness area and expands the boundaries of five different existing wilderness areas within the Cherokee National Forest. This bill will have no effect on privately owned lands and will cause no change in access for the public, as each of these areas is owned entirely by the U.S. Forest Service and managed as a Wilderness Study Area.

The Tennessee Wilderness Act of 2011:

  • 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)

# # #