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Save the hardwoods around Virgin Falls and Welch Point. Tennessee Wildlife Resources (TWRA) plans to convert over 2,000 acres of hardwoods to savanna; ostensibly to create quail habitat. TWRA Deputy Director, Chris Robertson says that they plan to leave only 2 trees per acre. Hunters say that this will ruin the deer and turkey hunting at the Wildlife Management Area. Hikers will be deprived of the thick forest canopy along miles of trails leading to six beautiful waterfalls and multiple scenic overlooks. For those of you who have enjoyed this area, this means that when you turn off the paved road to go to Virgin Falls or Welch Point ALL of the trees on the left-hand side will be gone, past Virgin Falls and to Welch Point the trees will be gone on both sides of the road down to the Caney Fork River – almost four miles of hardwoods.

What can you do? Regardless of what county you live in, contact your state representative and senator and tell them that you want the proposed logging stopped. The most effective contact is a phone call, followed by an email. If you need help with an email, use some or all of the example text below. This link allows you to easily obtain your legislator’s contact information by simply entering your home address: <Legislative Contact> . It’s a bit more cumbersome and it is limited to 500 characters, but if you would also message Governor Lee your dismay at this link, it could make the difference. https://www.tn.gov/governor/contact-us.html

If you are from out of state, please message our governor and tell him how you travel to Tennessee to see hardwoods and waterfalls, TWRA will hurt tourism in a rural county.https://www.tn.gov/governor/contact-us.html

Example Text

Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency plans to reduce over 2,000 acres of hardwoods to only two trees per acre (effectively a clear cut) at the Bridgestone Firestone Centennial Wilderness Area, ostensibly to create quail habitat.   In addition to local hunters being unanimously opposed, this will severely degrade Virgin Falls State Natural Area and Welch Point.

Please be aware that Tennessee has a special provision allowing TWRA to retain the proceeds from the sale of natural resources. Many believe that the value of the hardwoods is a contributing factor to TWRA’s choice in this location.  TWRA has over 3,000 acres of partially-cleared, nonindigenous pine only 2.5 miles from Virgin Falls that could be used for quail habitat without destroying old-growth hardwoods. Details of TWRA’s plan was leaked to the public and details can be found at SaveTheHarwoods.com.

I am writing you to ask for the following assistance:

1. Please contact TWRA to get the proposed logging at the Bridgestone Firestone Centennial Wilderness Area stopped.

2. Either propose or support legislation requiring that proceeds from the sale of Tennessee’s natural resources be deposited in the state’s General Fund. This will help keep TWRA above reproach.

3. Propose or support legislation requiring ANY state agency to publish intended “change of use” for state-owned lands in the same fashion as private developers; these lands belong to the public, local communities should have a voice in planned changes. In short, extended Sunshine Laws for the public lands where the sun shines.

Thank you for your help in this matter.

Sincerely,

In addition to contacting your representatives, if you can take a minute to reach out to Bridgestone; the restrictions state that Bridgestone Corporation can intercede at any time. Please reach out to Bridgestone’s Jim Demouy at DemouyJames@BFUSA.com and Tom Lehner at LehnerThomas@BFUSA.com and Sara Stanton at StantonSara@BFUSA.com . Remind them that you are consumers and ask them to intercede by requiring TWRA to adhere to the wishes made by Masatoshi Ono in the book “The Bridgestone/Firestone Centennial Wilderness.” Mr. Ono stated “It is our goal that future generations who visit the Bridgestone/Firestone Centennial Wilderness will find this land as beautiful and unspoiled as is reflected on these pages.”

This map diagrams the projects that will result in a total of 2,766 acres of trees being removed. Note that 383 acres have already been cut.
This is an excerpt from the map that TWRA was supplying until September 1st. Because of our efforts, they fabricated a new map stating that they only plan to cut approximately 1,000 acres. Even if that is true, that is one thousand acres too many. Personally, I believe that none of the hardwoods that TWRA manages is safe until we get the legislation repealed that allows TWRA to add the proceeds from the sale of trees to their budget. The locations of Virgin Falls, the trailhead, and Welch Point have been added to the TWRA map.

History: The majority of this land was gifted to the state of Tennessee in the nineties by Bridgestone Firestone corporation. TWRA’s plans starkly contrast the covenants that the tire giant placed on the property when transferred to the state. Bridgestone named The Conservation Fund to monitor the restrictions. Unfortunately, The Conservation Fund later abdicated the restrictions to TWRA’s symbiotic counterpart The Tennessee Wildlife Federation.

Hunters have recently pointed to over 3,000 acres of partially-cleared nonindigenous pine only 2.5 miles away that is also managed by TWRA and asked them to use that land for quail habitat instead; TWRA has not relented. Many hunters and hikers feel that the true driving force is the money that TWRA will transact by cutting hardwoods instead of pine.

There are a total of 5 Quail Focus Areas scheduled in Tennessee. TWRA maintains that the majority of these focus areas are being carved out of closed-canopy, old-growth hardwoods. In addition to Sparta, if you live or know anyone in the Greenville, Maryville, Manchester, or Somerville Tennessee area you may want to alert them that their old-growth forest may be next. The names of the focus areas may be gleaned from the TWRA-supplied graphic below.

Check this page often. More anecdotes from hunters about TWRA clearcutting thousands of acres across the state are pouring in every day and we will publish them as time allows. Please send your comments to: news@SaveTheHardwoods.com

The TWRA project map available below has been updated. I have added the locations of Virgin Falls, Welch Point, etc. to demonstrate how this plan will disrupt some of Tennessee’s best attractions. The Bridgestone Restrictive Covenants are as filed in the White County Courthouse less several pages of metes & bounds (surveyor calls) to make the file manageable. If you need the full document, please email news@SaveTheHardwoods.com. The document 2021 BSFS Forest Conversion file is the latest 1.5 pages that TWRA uses to justify removal of over 2,000 acres of hardwoods, supplied by TWRA.