Newscasts

PNS Daily Newscast - May 23, 2018 


The Mueller probe lands another cooperating witness. Also on the rundown: The GAO gives a green light for CHIP cuts; and hurricane experts say – don’t let down guard down.

Daily Newscasts

A Push for New Tennessee Wilderness Act on 29th Anniversary

PHOTO: The Tennessee Wilderness Act seeks to permanently protect 20,000 acres of the Cherokee National Forest and add the first new wilderness area in Tennessee in more than a quarter-century. Photo credit: Chris M. Morris
PHOTO: The Tennessee Wilderness Act seeks to permanently protect 20,000 acres of the Cherokee National Forest and add the first new wilderness area in Tennessee in more than a quarter-century. Photo credit: Chris M. Morris
October 30, 2013

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - With Congress back in session this week, a renewed push is on for passage of a new Tennessee Wilderness Act.

Today marks the 29th anniversary of the original. The first Tennessee Wilderness Act was signed into law Oct. 30, 1984, by President Reagan. Leading the effort locally at the time was Will Skelton of Knoxville.

"There were a few areas we couldn't get because of politics and recommendations by the Forest Service and so forth," said Skelton, now an advisory committee member for Tennessee Wild.. "That's why we're coming back now and hoping to get those additional areas that are just simply outstanding, like Upper Bald River particularly, which comes over a big waterfall at the lower end before it goes into the Tellico River."

The Tennessee Wilderness Act of 2013 would create the state's first new wilderness area in decades, expand five current wilderness areas and permanently protect some 20,000 acres of Cherokee National Forest.

Passage is important for protecting the area's unique flora and fauna, Skelton said, but also is critical for the economy. He said research shows outdoor recreation in Tennessee generates $8 billion dollars in consumer spending each year and supports more than 80,000 jobs.

"It's important to the economy because the wilderness areas and our natural areas are really why people want to live in this area," he said. "The green mountains and clean water and rivers - that's what makes East Tennessee outstanding - and these wilderness areas would contribute to that."

Skelton said this act was first introduced three years ago and is unfinished business that just needs Washington to finally take action.

"The areas that are in the current bill require no additional funding," he said. "There's no land acquisitions. There's no road closures; there are no roads in these areas. The United States Forest Service has recommended every one of these areas for wilderness designation, and there's really no significant opposition. It's just a matter of getting Congress to do it."

The legislation, which has the support of both Tennessee's U.S. senators, Republicans Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker, is awaiting a hearing in the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee.

The text of the bill, S. 1294, is online at gpo.gov.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - TN