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Keeping Tennessee “Forever Wild” Takes an Act of Congress

October 7, 2009

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. - If you enjoyed the recent public television special by director Ken Burns about the history of America's National Park system, you might also check out another film coming to PBS stations.

"Forever Wild," hosted by Robert Redford, ventures into some of the country's unspoiled places, with a focus on the everyday folks who have helped to protect them. One of them is Jeff Hunter, a field organizer with the Southern Appalachian Forest Coalition, who thinks both documentaries will spark Tennesseans to act to ensure that their wild places stay wild.

"It doesn't automatically occur. It takes an act of Congress, and that only happens when the citizens raise their voices and let their elected officials know it's what they want."

Hunter says the U.S. Forest Service has recommended that several locations in the Cherokee National Forest be given federal protection as wilderness areas, although it takes time, determination and know-how to get such a designation. On October 31, an event in Chattanooga should help Tennesseeans with the process, he adds.

"Representatives from The Wilderness Society, the Campaign for America's Wilderness, and the Tennessee Wild Coalition will be on hand to teach and train volunteers in the skills necessary to get an act of Congress passed to expand wilderness."

Some people oppose wilderness designations, saying they lock up profitable natural resources; proponents counter that an untouched landscape ultimately has more value, including for future generations.

For workshop information, visit www.tnwild.org. For details about where and when "Forever Wild" will be aired, see www.alacarte.tv.com.

Dick Layman, Public News Service - TN