TN Wilderness Act designates 20k acres of Cherokee National Fore - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

TN Wilderness Act designates 20k acres of Cherokee National Forest

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Big Frog Mountain within Big Frog Wilderness in Polk County (Source: Wikimedia Commons) Big Frog Mountain within Big Frog Wilderness in Polk County (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Senators Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander introduced the Tennessee Wilderness Act of 2013 Monday.

The legislation designates nearly 20,000 acres in six areas of Cherokee National Forest.

The legislation creates one new wilderness area and expands five existing areas in Monroe County, Polk County, Washington County, Unicoi County, Carter County and Johnson County.

"I grew up hiking the mountains of East Tennessee, and conserving these areas gives future generations of Tennesseans the same sort of opportunity. This legislation takes important steps toward protecting our natural heritage, and gives the millions of people who visit Tennessee each year an additional reason to come and enjoy our outdoors," says Alexander.

"I think Tennesseans take great pride in the fact that millions of people visit our state every year to experience our incredible God-given amenities. I thank Senator Alexander for his lifelong commitment to protecting 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," says Corker.

The act creates  the 9,038-acre Upper Bald River Wilderness in Monroe County, Adds 348 acres to the Big Frog Wilderness and 966 acres to Little Frog Wilderness in Polk County, adds 2,922 acres to the Sampson Mountain Wilderness in Washington and Unicoi County, adds 4,446 acres to the Big Laurel Branch Wilderness in Carter and Johnson County, and adds 1,836 acres to the Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock Wilderness in Monroe County.

Creating and expanding these wilderness areas would have no effect on privately owned land. 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.

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