The Campaign for America's Wilderness of the Pew Environment Group hailed the introduction of a bill to designate nearly 20,000 acres of wilderness on the Cherokee National Forest in east Tennessee. Sponsored by Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Bob Corker (R-TN), the measure would be the first wilderness designation in the state in more than 25 years.
“This legislation will protect prized hiking areas, including portions of the popular Appalachian Trail,” said David Dreher with the Campaign for America's Wilderness at the Pew Environment Group. “These are places enjoyed by hunters, anglers, birders, photographers and campers. Wilderness designation will ensure that they stay as they are for generations to come.”
The legislation will expand five existing wilderness areas, including Sampson Mountain and Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock, and create one new one, the Upper Bald River. Each of the proposed places was recommended for wilderness designation in 2004 by the U.S. Forest Service.
The measure will preserve important watersheds and habitat for native brook trout, black bear, bobcat, grey fox and white-tailed Deer and will protect a popular migratory, breeding and wintering habitat for numerous bird species.
“This is a great example of wilderness being protected in the Eastern half of the United States,” said Dreher. “We thank Senators Alexander and Corker for championing this legislation and for working with local stakeholders to safeguard these Appalachian landscapes.”