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Tennessee Wilderness Act Passes House and Senate

Posted: 12/14/2018
by Kevin Colburn

Earlier this week the Tennessee Wilderness Act passed the US House and Senate as part of the Farm Bill, and now heads to the President's desk to become law. This bill has been promoted by local citizens and the Tennessee delegation for nearly a decade. These 20,000 acres of Wilderness designations will protect some places that are special to paddlers. 

The TN Wilderness Act will designate additions to several Wilderness areas scattered near the North Carolina State line. 

  • The Upper Bald River Wilderness additions will protect nearly the entire watershed of the Bald River, which many paddlers will recognize by the impressive Bald River Falls that is an iconic view for Tellico River paddlers, and the Bald River offers a wild paddling expereince of its own. 
  • The Little Frog and Big Frog Wilderness additions are adjascent to the whitewater sections of the Ocoee and Hiwassee Rivers. 
  • The Joyce Kilmer Slickrock Wilderness additions are near Slickrock Creek and Citico Creek, and also are next to a large parcel of land that was transferred from the power company to the US Forest Service as part of the same dam relicensing process that American Whitewater utilized to restore flows to the nearby Cheoah River. 
  • The Sampson Mountain and Big Laurel Branch Wilderness additions are near the Nolichucky and Watauga rivers respectively.

American Whitewater and many paddlers have supported the Tennessee Wilderness Act over the years. Wilderness designation is a great tool for protecting water quality and wild river paddling opportunities. We applaud the tireless group of local advocates, and would like to thank Senator Alexander (R-TN), Senator Corker (R-TN) and Congressman Roe (R-TN) for getting this bill through Congress!  


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