Conservation Priorities at the 2024 Tennessee General Assembly

Jul 8, 2024

Every year, Tennessee Wildlife Federation tracks legislation at the state and federal levels concerning wildlife, lands, water, and outdoor recreation to advocate for bills that will advance conservation and against bills that would harm Tennesseans’ abilities to enjoy the outdoors.

The second year of the 113th Tennessee General Assembly’s two-year session adjourned on April 25, 2024. This session the Federation tracked 150+ state bills in these areas and others related to conservation. Highlights of state legislation tracked by the Federation include the following:

Our Position: Support
Status: Bill Passed 
Summary: In a proactive effort by the Federation, HB2263/SB2039 enshrines into law that hunting and fishing are conservation, and that they are the primary methods of wildlife management. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Darby and Sen. Rose, and it went into effect July 1, 2024.

Our Position: Opposed
Status: Bill Failed
Summary: As introduced, this legislation would have prohibited the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation from regulating wetlands that are not also under federal jurisdiction—effectively eliminating state level wetlands regulation. The Federation was successful in having this legislation sent to summer study, where the Federation will be at the table along with other stakeholders to define a reasonable strategy for conserving our state’s wetlands.

Our Position: Opposed
Status: Bill Failed
Summary: The Federation successfully defeated this bill that would have prohibited the lawful taking of sandhill cranes. Tennessee’s first regulated sandhill crane hunting season was established in 2013 after decades of immense population growth. Over 30,000 sandhill cranes now winter in Tennessee, representing a robust portion of the Eastern Population of sandhill cranes. Thanks to swift action taken by the Federation and other sportsman organizations, the bill was removed from discussion for the remainder of the legislative session. 

Our Position: Support
Status: Bill Failed
Summary: This year, the Federation proposed a caption to existing legislation, sponsored by Rep. Faison and Sen. Briggs, that would have created a task force to study solutions for our state’s growing litter problem. That bill did not pass this year. However, the Federation and other stakeholders are continuing to discuss the future of solid waste infrastructure in Tennessee. 

Our Position: Support
Status: Bill Failed
Summary: Tennessee is rapidly losing farmland, often to land use changes in response to growing populations and demand for development. The Governor’s office introduced a bill to allow the Department of Agriculture to enter into conservation easements with landowners to help prevent conversion of their to non-agricultural uses. The Federation was supportive of this effort, and is encouraged that the Governor and legislative leadership plan to bring this bill back next year. 

Position: Support
Status: Bill Passed
Summary: Governor Lee announced several conservation budget priorities in his State of the State Address in February. The priorities included $63 million to create four new Tennessee State Parks, with the goal of funding a total of eight new state parks by the time Governor Lee leaves office, tying a Tennessee record for the most state parks created by one administration. State parks act as a key part of the public’s access to the outdoors, as well as conserve key habitats and landscapes throughout the state. The priorities also included $20 million to expand blueway trail access.

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