The Tennessee Wilderness Act of 2011 would expand five existing wilderness areas in the Cherokee National Forest.

TN_FlagConservationists are getting antsy that Congress for more than a year has failed to take up a bill that would cost nothing and protect 19,556 acres of Volunteer State wilderness — most of it in Southeast Tennessee.

The Tennessee Wilderness Act of 2011, introduced in May 2011 by Sen. Lamar Alexander and co-sponsored by Sen. Bob Corker, would expand five existing wilderness areas in the Cherokee National Forest and create the first new one in 25 years.

“There is no opposition to this,” said Jeff Hunter, director of the Tennessee Wilderness Campaign. “The Forest Service chief has testified strongly in favor of the bill; it doesn’t cost anything.”

Yet, while the bill passed out of committee on a bipartisan basis and takes no private land, closes no roads and snatches no taxes from local communities, it has languished without a full vote for nearly a year.

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Source: Source: Pam Sohn | The Chattanooga Times Free Press