White County is exploring legal avenues against TWRA’s clear cutting project at the Bridgestone Firestone Centennial Wilderness Area. (Scotts Gulf)
The County Commission held an attorney-client privilege meeting Monday night. County Executive Denny Wayne Robinson said the county discussed options with County Attorney John Meadows.
“We are looking if there is any legal avenues that we can pursue,” Robinson said. “We were presented with some information. I’ll distribute that out to commissioners, and there is a possibility that legal actions may be forthcoming by White County.”
Robinson said from the discussions, a special called meeting to consider options has been planned for February 1st. Robinson said the habitat project would be a disaster, seeing the old hardwoods cut down.
“There is no place on earth like that up there,” Robinson said. “Some of those trees are hundreds of years old. It’s a beautiful place. It draws tourists from everywhere. That would be such a terrible disgrace and disaster for the county to see that clear cut away. We don’t want that to happen.”
The three-phased habitat project would change over 2,000 acres to quail environment over three to five years. TWRA began the bid process to survey the land of phase one in December.
According to the cutting plan shared by TWRA during December’s Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission meeting, harvesting will begin in March. The north side or, “The Farm,” and the south side or the, “Big Bottom,” will be the most impacted.
White County as well as the city of Sparta have sent letters to Governor Bill Lee requesting the project not move forward.
In 1998, Bridgestone donated 4,000 acres of land in White County’s Scott’s Gulf to the state of Tennessee to create the Bridgestone-Firestone Centennial Wilderness. Two years later, the company donated an additional 6,000 acres to the state, bring the total to 10,000 acres and becoming one of the largest land donations in history to the state by a private company.
Today, the Bridgestone-Firestone Centennial Wilderness is a TWRA wildlife management area consisting of waterfalls, 26 miles of hiking trails, overlooks of the Caney Fork River Gorge and camp grounds. The Wilderness is also home to a variety of wildlife, including federally listed species of bats, fish, mussels and plants.
The Bridgestone-Firestone Centennial Wilderness is a testament to Bridgestone’s commitment to ensuring a healthy environment for current and future generations.