Saturday, May 4, 2013

Sen. Alexander Praises Preservation of Land Connecting Smokies to Cherokee National Forest

U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) joined Brookfield Renewable Energy Group and The Nature Conservancy at Calderwood Dam yesterday, praising the announcement of their agreement to preserve nearly 4,000 acres of land connecting the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Cherokee National Forest.

“There is no more popular or magnificent section of the Great American Outdoors than the land adjacent to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Cherokee National Forest,” Alexander said. “Any effort to find new ways to protect that land and make more of it available for outdoor recreation certainly will be welcomed by Tennesseans. Today’s announcement means tens of thousands of Tennesseans and visitors will be able to continue to enjoy more hiking, hunting, fishing and boating.”

The nearly 4,000 acres will ultimately become public land following the transfer from Brookfield to The Nature Conservancy, and will connect the Great Smoky Mountains and Cherokee National Forest. In its agreement with Brookfield, The Nature Conservancy will convey the property over the next two years to state and federal partners, adding to the 6,000 acres that previously became part of the Smoky Mountains and the Cherokee National Forest following the agreement in 2004 to re-license Alcoa's hydropower facilities.

Once the transfer is complete, trail crews plan to reroute a section of the Benton MacKaye Trail between Deals Gap and the Smokies so that hikers can stay in the forest and not have to walk along U.S. Highway 129.

Alexander joined Brookfield and The Nature Conservancy in making the announcement at Calderwood Dam near Maryville, alongside representatives of the State of Tennessee, the U.S. Forest Service and the National Park Service.

Hiking in the Smokies

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