Conservation Wins at the Tennessee General Assembly

Jul 28, 2021

Anglers fishing on a river while kayakers paddle around them.

This past legislative session, Tennessee Wildlife Federation’s conservation policy team was hard at work being your voice and monitoring more than 30 bills and rules that would impact our wildlife, waters, and wild places.

After all, more people are venturing into the great outdoors than ever before, and the need to safeguard Tennessee’s natural world is critical. Thanks to you, the Federation successfully advocated for legislation and rules that do just that. It’s how we’ve conserved Tennessee’s great outdoors for 75 years.

Here are a few of the bills and rules the Federation worked on.

Quick Links to the Issues

TWRA Rulemaking: Public Duck Blind Access

The Federation’s Position: In Favor of Expanded Access

Status: Passed

Summary: The Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission (TFWC) approved the rule change submitted by TWRA that changed how public waterfowling locations are allocated to increase access and opportunity to more waterfowl hunters across the state. Statewide polling showed a large majority of waterfowl hunters were unsatisfied with the old methods.

Our Role: To ensure people could easily participate in TWRA’s public decision-making process, the Federation created an online tool so individuals could easily contact the full Commission with their thoughts, delivering 6,230 messages.

TDEC Commercial Paddlecraft Permit (HB 887/SB 1075)

The Federation’s Position: In Favor

Status: Passed

Summary: Requires the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) to issue rules to create a Commercial Use Authorization (CUA) that requires a permit for those engaging in commercial activities in state parks or state natural areas. To help parks be more financially self-sufficient, the rules must include fees for these for-profit ventures.

Our Role: This issue aligns with our Share Our Rivers efforts that support fair and balanced access and use of our Tennessee waterways. The Federation amplified the message that there are hot spots, like on the Harpeth River, where state parks are experiencing particularly large negative impacts.

TDEC Alternative Sewer Permitting (HB 707/SB 1043)

The Federation’s Position: Opposed

Status: Dead this session

Summary: This bill sought to weaken the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation’s (TDEC) oversight of sewage treatment. It would have prohibited TDEC from requiring a permit, inspection, review, or approval of plans for the construction or modification of so-called land application systems, which treat wastewater by spreading it across open land. Sewer siting and design is complex and can cause potentially serious harm if not properly managed.

Our Role: The Federation worked alongside the Department and supported maintaining TDEC regulatory oversight of this issue to the fullest extent. Only by ensuring water quality protections can we minimize impacts to Tennessee’s water resources and human health.

Tennessee CLEAN

The Federation’s Position: In Favor

Status: TACIR to do Comprehensive Litter Study

Summary: Tennessee CLEAN (Cleaner Landscapes for the Economy, Agriculture and Nature) is the Federation’s anti- litter initiative that seeks a robust and unified response to Tennessee’s growing litter problem that is negatively impacting wildlife, water quality, and even our economy.

Our Role: The Federation worked behind the scenes to garner unanimous support for a comprehensive litter study by the Tennessee Advisory Commission for Intergovernmental Relations (TACIR), the research arm of the General Assembly. This is a critical step and the first fresh progress on statewide litter control in a generation. TACIR will look into topics like the sources and composition of litter, financial and environmental costs, economic opportunities of recovering waste, and more. This study will inform how to achieve the core goals of Tennessee CLEAN.

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