Off-roaders continue fight to keep Aetna Mountain open
CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) - A 1,200 acre hot spot for off-roaders is expected to close. Now we may know why.
The group fighting to keep Aetna Mountain open to four-wheelers says the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is closing the area because of erosion.
The area is known as Cummings Cove. It sits on top of the mountain overlooking Chattanooga's Lookout Valley and the Nickajack Lake.
It's owned by the TWRA and has been known for decades as an off-roader's playground.
"We don't play golf, we ride ATV's," says Christie Perkins.
Perkins' 500-member club spends a lot of time on Aetna Mountain.
"I've been going there since I was a little boy," says club member Joe Blevins. "And the mountain is cleaner now than its ever been."
Thursday night 70 of the club's members showed up to the local neighborhood association looking for help.
"The goal tonight was to bring attention to our problem," says Perkins, who did just that.
The group is fighting the TWRA's plans to close Cummings Cove.
"They said that they are closing it due to erosion and situation running down onto highway 41," says Perkins.
Perkins and her club say there has to be another way. They meet regularly to pick up litter, remove fallen trees, and keep the mountain clean.
"Hey, if they want some silk fence up and stuff, we've got the man power to do it," says Blevins. "We'll do whatever it takes."
But most all, they want to talk to TWRA representatives about the closure.
Agency officials have stayed quiet, even when Channel 3 called multiple times to ask questions. We were told TWRA has no comment.
Christie Perkins says that won't cut it, because she and 499 ATV enthusiasts care too much to put their club in park.
"We take care of (Cummings Cove), we don't bother anybody," she says. "It keeps our kids off the streets and keeps all of us happy."
The group was not on Thursday night's agenda, but the Lookout Valley Neighborhood Association agreed to meet with them next Thursday at 6 pm.
The TWRA is invited to the meeting.
Last week, a TWRA spokesperson promised to release details on the closing. That same spokesperson tells Channel 3 the agency changed its mind and will not be releasing any details.
Count on Channel 3 to be at next week's meeting and follow this developing story.