On Thursday of last week, U.S. Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) announced the introduction of the Tennessee Wilderness Act of 2011. If passed by Congress, the act would designate as wilderness, nearly 20,000 acres in six areas of the Cherokee National Forest.
These areas were recommended for wilderness status by the U.S. Forest Service in the development of its comprehensive 2004 forest plan and have been managed as Wilderness Study Areas since that time.
Congress began protecting wilderness areas in the Cherokee National Forest in 1975, with additional wilderness areas established by the Tennessee Wilderness Acts of 1984 and 1986.
This bill will have no effect on privately owned lands and will cause no change in access for the public, as each of these areas is owned entirely by the U.S. Forest Service and managed as a Wilderness Study Area.
The Tennessee Wilderness Act of 2011 creates one new wilderness area and expands the boundaries of five different existing wilderness areas within the Cherokee National Forest:
• Creates the 9,038 acre Upper Bald River Wilderness (Monroe County)
• Adds 348 acres to the Big Frog Wilderness (Polk County)
• Adds 966 acres to the Little Frog Wilderness (Polk County)
• Adds 2,922 acres to the Sampson Mountain Wilderness (Washington and Unicoi County)
• Adds 4,446 acres to the Big Laurel Branch Wilderness (Carter and Johnson County)
• Adds 1,836 acres to the Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock Wilderness (Monroe County)