Tennessee Wilderness Act

The Tennessee Wilderness Act

The waning days of the 115th Congress in late 2018 produced a wonderful Holiday Gift for all those citizens of Tennessee and the United States who care about preserving our remaining natural areas, from hikers and backpackers to anglers, equestrians, hunters, bird-watchers, and botanists. On December 20, 2018, the President signed into law the Farm Bill which contained The Tennessee Wilderness Act that designated as Wilderness 19,556 acres of the Cherokee National Forest (thereby adding such to the then existing 66,389 acres protected by two Congressional Acts in the 1980’s). The new areas are:

  • Upper Bald River Wilderness (9,038 acres); this is the only “stand-alone” wilderness in the Act, the remaining areas are additions to existing designated Wilderness
  • Big Frog Wilderness Addition (348 acres)
  • Little Frog Mountain Wilderness Addition (630 acres)
  • Little Frog Mountain Wilderness Addition (336 acres)
  • Sampson Mountain Wilderness Addition (2,922)
  • Big Laurel Branch Wilderness Addition (4,446 acres)
  • Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock Wilderness Addition (1,836 acres)

The total of these areas and the prior Wilderness means that 85,945 acres of the Cherokee National Forest are protected as Wilderness (about 13% of the Cherokee’s total acreage of 655,598). This action means that these areas cannot be logged and no roads or structures can be built, but they can be used for hiking, hunting, fishing and other non-mechanized uses that don’t destroy the natural beauty and wildness of the areas. Getting these additional areas protected is the cumulation of a long-time effort by scores of people, with lots of history re how we got here from there.

Our thanks to Will Skelton for this update and photos. For a more complete story of the concept and evolution of this legislation, read TN WILDERNESS ACT 2018.