Public Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) managed by the state agency are valuable assets to Tennesseans and Tennessee’s rural economies, and Yanahli is one of the state’s most popular.
In early February Tennessee Representative Scott Cepicky and Senator Joey Hensley introduced bills that would have transferred ownership of the 12,800-acre Yanahli Wildlife Management Area from the state of Tennessee to Maury County government. Hunters and anglers were concerned that these properties would have been diverted to other uses not compatible with hunting and angling, or poorly managed. The reason for this concern was well-founded because of efforts over the past two years in Maury County to develop up to 500 acres of protected land within the WMA to build an agricenter.
Yanahli represents only 3% of Maury County’s land, but provides a disproportionate positive economic impact. Yanahli is also a critically important area for outdoor recreation, hunting and fishing, and is recognized as one of the state’s top-producing WMAs. WMAs in general have 140,000 annual users, are utilized by 64% of sportsmen license holders, and provide 3.44 million recreation days per year for the public.
More than 1,200 individuals emailed their legislators opposing the bill. As a result, the bills […] were withdrawn
When the bills were introduced, the Federation quickly reached out to other NGOs and formed a coalition including Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, Quail Forever, Safari Club International, and Turkeys for Tomorrow. We developed materials for our coalition partners to share with their members and issued our own Policy Action Alert email, a blog post, and social media posts urging individuals to contact their legislators to oppose these bills.
Within mere days of forming the coalition and issuing our Policy Action Alerts, more than 1,200 individuals had emailed their legislators opposing the bill. As a result, the bills never even made it to committees. They were withdrawn before they had the chance to be heard thanks to the swift action by the Federation, our coalition partners, and concerned citizens.
Public lands are critical, and in Middle Tennessee where public lands are limited, we should be seeking opportunities to expand these lands, not remove them.