It’s been a busy couple of months in public policy related to Tennessee’s great outdoors, and we wanted to let you about three important wins – a hat trick, or sorts – for the Federation and wildlife conservation in our state.

Over the past three years or so, TWF has worked closely with U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, and others to find a permanent funding solution for Tennessee’s two federal fish hatcheries at Erwin and Dale Hollow. Sen. Alexander announced Moday, May 11, that TVA would permanently support the hatcheries. This ensures the continued production of millions of disease-free trout eggs, some one million trout stocked into our East Tennessee tailwaters, and the annual $45 million economic impact for our state.
During this year’s session of the Tennessee General Assembly, a little-known joint resolution quietly worked its way through the House and Senate. When discovered, it drew TWF’s full attention. The resolution essentially calls for the State of Tennessee and our congressional delegation to demand the transfer or sell all federal publicly held lands to the states in which those lands are located. (CLICK HERE to read the resolution.) TWF was able to stop this resolution’s passage for now, thank goodness, but make no mistake – it will return.

Folks, we cannot allow this to become the official policy of the state of Tennessee. The number of outdoorsmen and women who would be negatively impacted by such policies is astronomical, not to mention the wildlife itself. Offloading federal land to states that can’t afford to manage it is an amazingly bad idea for a myriad of reasons. (Note: We acknowledge the fact that there are management issues related to public lands and these need to be addressed. However, we believe that this proposed resolution is an irresponsible and unrealistic solution.)

Some four years ago, Tennessee commercial fishermen filed a lawsuit against the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Commission (TWRC). The suit challenged the TWRC’s authority for making rules and regulations, claiming that the 2010 “right to hunt and fish” constitutional amendment (RHF) that TWF helped pass should exclude them from regulations on paddlefish and other commercially harvested fish species. Judge Russell Perkin of the Davidson Chancery Court issued his decision May 14, ruling in favor of the TWRC. A precedent-setting part of this case was Judge Perkin’s interpretation of the RHF. In essence, he ruled that the amendment is personal and does not extend to commercial fishermen. This is exactly what the authors of the amendment – including TWF – intended when we wrote the language.

As TWF continues to work for wildlife in Tennessee, we will be faced with more and more threats to the public ownership of these natural treasures, and we will need your continued support with your voice, your gifts, and your volunteerism.

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