U.S. Senators Bill Frist (R-TN) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) announced that the Fiscal Year (FY) 2005 Omnibus Conference Report, which the Senate passed late Saturday November 20, includes significant funding for Tennessee parks and forests projects. The conference report will now go to the President for his signature.
“I’m thrilled that Tennessee is receiving this funding to preserve and protect many of the state’s most valuable natural resources and public parks,” said Frist. “It will help ensure that natural treasures, like the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, can be enjoyed by future generations of Tennesseans.”
“I grew up in Maryville, and now my home is at the edge of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. I’ve had a long time interest in the Smokies, the most visited park in our country,” said Alexander. “This bill invests not only in our national parks but in critical wildlife and conservation projects across Tennessee.”
The Interior Appropriations Bill was passed as part of the FY 2005 Omnibus Conference Report. The Tennessee funding for parks and forests projects includes:
A five percent increase in base operations funding for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
$500,000 to support preliminary planning for the Institute at Tremont.
$2.17 million to replace the Smokemont water and sewer system.
$1.5 million for acquisition of 2,800 acres in Scott’s Gulf, which is located in White County near Sparta, Tennessee. The preservation of this property, which includes rugged and pristine canyons along the Caney Fork River, will enhance conservation efforts, improve water quality and protect habitat for a listed endangered species, the Indiana bat.
$3.5 million for acquisition of the Walls of Jericho, which is located on the south Cumberland Plateau along the Tennessee and Alabama border. It is considered one of the most unique and biologically diverse areas in the Southeast United States. Preservation of the Walls of Jericho will ensure that the public can enjoy this remarkably scenic and fragile area for generations to come.
$400,000 for the Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area. The Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area is a statewide partnership between the National Park Service and Middle Tennessee State University. It is the only statewide National Heritage Area, as well as the only National Heritage Area administered by a public university in the nation.
$750,000 for the Chickasaw National Wildlife Refuge to purchase two tracts of land containing 788 acres near Ripley, Tennessee. These areas contain significant amounts of mature bald cypress, and their preservation is essential to protecting naturally occurring habitats of the Lower Mississippi River Valley ecosystem.
$750,000 for the Lower Hatchie National Wildlife Refuge to acquire more than 560 acres of bottomland hardwood forest in the Lower Mississippi Valley.
$450,000 for the Memphis Fish and Wildlife Service Port of Entry. The port of entry allows wildlife and wildlife products entering the United States to come through Memphis and reinforces Memphis’ role as one of the world’s most important international cargo hubs.