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Don’t Chop Rocky Top!

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Tags: Required Post, Tennessee Wildlife Protection Act

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With the 50th anniversary of the original Wilderness Act approaching, the US Forest Service seeks to expand wilderness in the Cherokee National Forest by the Land and Resource Management Plan of 2003. In July 2013, Senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker introduced the Tennessee Wilderness Act of 2013 (S.1294). Passing this act will designate the state’s first new wilderness area in decades and protect nearly 20,000 acres in six areas of the Cherokee National Forest.

We take pride in our beautiful state of Tennessee and preserving the wilderness is essential to protect human, natural, and economic benefits. Wilderness provides a get away from the fast-paced life we live; it is a safe haven to relax, escape crowds and noise, and enjoy intimate relationships. It offers outdoor recreation, like hiking, observing wildlife, swimming, fishing, and endless more adventure opportunities. Our society must keep from being dependent on technology to continue to reap the benefits wilderness recreation has on our wellbeing. Secondly, wilderness is a home for wildlife. Over half of the ecosystems in the United States exist within designated wilderness. Wilderness assists in the web-of-life by providing migration routes and breeding grounds for animal species. Third, wilderness is an economic engine and a way of life. Outdoor recreation contributes more than $646 billion annually to the economy. Also, wilderness areas protect watersheds that provide drinking water and improve the quality of air. Wilderness is a source of clean, renewable energy and it must become a priority that we protect it. And of course, it is also our home and the home of our beloved Vols!

What’s your favorite color? I don’t know about you, but I bleed orange! Fall is my favorite season because we even find orange in our trees here in big orange country. Realistically, I truly enjoy the leaves changing color. There is nothing better than observing the overhanging trees filled with yellow, red, and orange on my drive home, or peering off the top of Sunset Rock in Chattanooga to see the landscape of autumn foliage. My favorite memories from my childhood include kayaking at Harpeth Valley, building a tent of sticks and leaves with my friends at Horton Haven Camp, hearing the wildlife waking in cabins, riding bicycles on the greenway, watching squirrels chase each other up the trees at my grandmother’s house, and enjoying picnics with my family on sunny days. Our kids and grandkids should have the opportunity to hike parts of the 10 miles of trails and observe the rock formations at Ijams Nature Center. Future generations should feel the excitement of visiting the Knoxville Zoo to see the animals and the Cedars of Lebanon State Park to go adventuring. It is our responsibility to ensure that future generations get to experience all of these priceless sights and recreational luxuries.

How can you put in your fingerprints to reduce the carbon footprints? You can fulfill your civil duty by writing letters to your hometown representatives! You can find your representative’s mailing address on the website http://www.house.gov/. Include all of the “can’t miss out” opportunities and places to appreciate the nature in your town, like one of my Nashville favorites: Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of Art! You can also become involved by volunteering at local parks, like Ijams, joining a wilderness group to commune with individuals with similar concerns, and most importantly, spread the word! Inspire our future generations to start conserving now by informing them of the true environmental threats and providing them with opportunities to admire the incomparable beauty of our Earth.

Conquering the environmental issues is my passion and I hope I have motivated you to preserve natural resources and protect the biologically rich habitat for rising generations. Get environmentally active and spread the word to pass the Tennessee Wilderness Act of 2013. Cheers to being Volunteers!

For more information and opportunities to get involved:

http://tnwild.org/

http://www.publicnewsservice.org/2013-10-30/environment/a-push-for-new-tennessee-wilderness-act-on-29th-anniversary/a35304-1

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