REPORTING: RABBIT ZIELKE
On June 9th, 2010, Senator Lamar Alexander and Senator Bob Corker introduced legislation that would increase wilderness land protected in Tennessee. The Tennessee Wilderness Act of 2010 will designate almost 20,000 acres in the Cherokee National Forest as wilderness land. This will protect the areas from development forever. Once the bill is signed by the President, the land will be designated as part of the National Wilderness Preservation System.
The United States became the first nation to sign a law that permanently protects wilderness areas of the country to remain pristine and untouched forever. The original Wilderness Act of 1964 protected 54 areas covering approximately 9.1 million acres. The amount of wilderness protected has grown to include more than 750 wilderness areas and about 110 million acres.
The wilderness areas are protected from mechanized development but they are open to the public for hiking, limited hunting, camping and non intrusive recreation. Stewardship of the wilderness areas falls to agencies such as the Forest Service and National Park Service. Volunteers maintain trail systems and nonprofit organizations like Tennessee Wild work for advocacy and educate the public on the importance of protecting wilderness.
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