Updated, April 17, 2016
1. Use the link below to lookup and contact your legislators, and voice your opinion.
2. Contact as many of the Energy, Agricultural and Natural Resources Committee members as you can (listed below).
3. Share this message with your friends, and on social media. Take back our Tennessee lands.
To lookup your legislator via your address, click here.
Natural Resources Committee Contacts
Senator Steve Southerland, Chair
4648 Harbor Drive
Morristown, TN 37814
Phone: (423) 587-6167
Senator Frank Niceley, Vice-Chair
1023 Creek Road
Strawberry Plains, TN 37871
Phone: (615) 741-2061
Senator Paul Bailey, Vice-Chair
252 Lowery Road
Sparta, TN 38583
Phone: (615) 741-3978
Senator Mike Bell, Member
261 County Road 757
Riceville, TN 37370
Phone: (615) 741-1946
Senator Mark Green, Member
1990 Madison Street
Clarksville, TN 37043
Phone: (615) 741-2374
Senator Dolores Gresham, Member
16980 Highway 64
Somerville, TN 38068
Phone: (901) 465-9433
Fax: (901) 465-6330
Senator Lee Harris, Member
301 6th Avenue North
Suite 318 War Memorial Bldg.
Nashville, TN 37243
Phone: (615) 741-1767
Fax: (615) 253-0357
Senator Kerry Roberts, Member
Post Office Box 200
Springfield, TN 37172-0200
Phone: (615) 741-4499
Senator Ken Yager, Member
136 Claygate Court
Kingston TN 37763
Phone (615) 741-1449
Please report any errors found on this site to the email address in the contacts tab.
To contact your legislators click here.
Additional pictures from the Bridgestone Firestone Wilderness Area courtesy of Chuck Sutherland.
First, having just moved here two years ago, we’re far from “a friend in a high place”. In fact, I think that puts us in a “low place” as “outsiders” for at least another 23 years or so. Be that as it may:
We fully agree with your sentiments.
My wife, my sister and I are all senior citizens who like to ride our side-by-side in the Big Bottom area for Bird watching, wildlife and nature photography. A year ago December, we were stopped by a Ranger and informed we were not to be there as the area is technically closed from August to January (but in particular during “big game”). He also told us that the area was purchased and is funded exclusively by hunting fees, so the hunters were ENTITLED to EXCLUSIVE use of the land (his emphasis).
While we returned to Big Bottom a couple times this summer, for the most part we have chosen to ride at Prentice-Cooper in Chattanooga. While they also close for hunting, it is clearly spelled out on their website which days are open and provide a phone number for verification.
In speaking to a Ranger at Prentice-Cooper, I was informed that I must be actively hunting to use that (or any closed area) to be considered a “hunter”. He told me that (even if I were licensed and carrying the appropriate weapon) if I was seen to be using a camera rather than a gun, I would be asked to leave and perhaps open to citation; particularly if a “real” hunter were to complain about my activity.
We live just off Rt 111 at the base of the hill going up into Spencer. Big Bottom is practically out our back door, and in large part a reason why we purchased our side-by-side. We bought it locally, brand new in Cookeville, and try to engage in outings at least once a week. Now, due to what we consider being “hassled”, our weekly meal and fuel money mostly gets spent in Dunlap, rather than Sparta.
While we’re just one voice, hopefully all this can help add a little fuel to the fire you are trying to build. It has been made clear to us that hunting “reign’s supreme” here, so I fear you are fighting a insurmountable up hill battle. Know that however, for what its worth, you have our support in your endeavor. SK
Very interesting site. Good luck; fight the good fight.
My maternal grandparents descendants settled in the Lost Creek Community 1800’s.
We still own a farm in the community that borders Bridgestone/ Firestone property.
My great uncle Mose Sims was instrumental recruiting and managing the purchase of
these properties for early Firestone which led to today’s conservative posture. Couple
the efforts of the State of TN, Heritage foundation and you have a very positive outlook
for the area. No doubt there will be glitches and there will be “workarounds” found to continue
preservation for this very, very special area.
I just read Mr. bullocks article on Sparta Live and decided to visit this website. He brings up some good points but I feel he’s leaving out some other groups of folks that have enjoyed the Scott’s gulf, Big bottom area long before most folks around here even knew what a kayak is. When I was a teen back in the 70’s we rode jeeps and motorcycles through the gulf regularly and encountered many folks on horseback. We still ride ATV’s and UTV’s on the big bottom unit where they are still allowed. As of Jan. 1st anyone riding TWRA managed land must by a WMA permit. We were told this last fall by an officer and he also said the cheapest way to do this would be buy a hunting, fishing license along with a type 94 big game endorsement. Even though most of our group doesn’t hunt we have a license to just so we can ride there without being cited. I wonder do kayakers, hikers and cavers have to abide by these rules? Right now you pretty much have full use of all the land except for this short period. Motorized traffic is limited to the big bottom unit only. I am on Mr. Bullock’s side on this issue, just be careful what you wish for.
Hikers at Bridgestone have offered to purchase their Sportsman License to use the property during that three months and have been told that if they were not hunting, they would be ticketed. The same for kayakers at Catoosa. There are 34 miles of ATV trails on the Big Bottom unit. Bridgestone specifically prohibited ATV use on their gift. Those restrictions are filed in the White County Courthouse, they also portray the other sports that they perceived being popular like hiking, caving, kayaking, etc. I was part of the Scott’s Gulf Foundation that helped work the land into state ownership. The state said that they would accept the land, but someone had to manage it. TWRA stepped up to the plate, but we were told that the land would be closed for two weeks for “gun” season. That was palatable, three months is not. Thanks for your comment.
My two cents, a contributing factor to the decline in use of the resource for hunting is cost and access to public lands. A person has to buy a WMA big game permit, or small game permit, to hunt on a TWRA WMA. Less people, in general, are participating in the sport of hunting due to increased costs and lack of reasonable access to public property for hunting. I lived in a TN state forest for 30 years. No problem hunting. I have fished and hunted on TVA property. No problem doing either. WMA is a major logistical challenge. I am all for the TN Forestry Division managing the resource. If they ask, I am the guy that had a mountain bike, with a gun rack on it, in the ’80’s hunting the Cedar Forest. The forest rangers are worth their weight in gold. They know the territory, the resource, and how to encourage the public to use it.
I support allowing year-round hiking in the Bridgestone Firestone Centennial Wilderness WMA in areas of the Highland Rim – where all the best hiking is! Hunters have plenty of room to hunt on the plateau, as originally dictated in the Bridgestone deed. Hunters don’t want to even be on the Highland Rim and have to haul their kills out from there, it’s absurd to think anyone does that.
I have no problem with the hikers or anyone else being in Scott’s Gulf during hunting season, but i do have a problem with if the hunters have to wear orange , during hunting season so does everyone else , its just common sense. As you can see common sense doesn’t exist anymore. If they are caught not wearing the orange than they need to be fined just like the hunters are.
Thank you for posting. I agree that in areas of mixed activities, all should wear blaze orange during hunting season. I want to see the record remain perfect.
I am glad to finally see an organized effort to make Bridgestone/Firestone open to everyone year round.
I have written two successive governors about this issue. In both cases, the governor forwarded my letter to the TWRA and I never got a reply. It is clear that Bridgestone/Firestone was a gift to ALL Tennesseans and it was NOT paid for by hunting licenses. It was a gift to ALL Tennesseans.
Some hunters say they should be able to hunt all year round if hikers can be there all year round. That is fine with me. Let them hunt in 95 degree weather and 15 degree weather. Wonder how many of them will be in the woods then? Wonder how much kill meat will spoil in the summer, before it can get to the butcher? If they can persuade TWRA to let them hunt all year then fine with me. Currently hunters get to hunt deer and turkeys for over three months per year but they get the entire area during the very best hiking and camping weather of the year in Spring and Fall while every one else must go during the hot or freezing weather when camping is not appealing to everyone. What is fair about that? Regardless of fair or not, check the BS/FS agreement. It says nothing about keeping people out during hunting season. The number of hunters using BS/FS is far smaller than the number of hikers who use the much smaller Virgin Falls area. I am sure if the entire BS/FS area were open to everyone year round, and promoted for tourism, White County would get a big boost in income. Make it so.
I would like to point out a truth that everyone, including myself, has over looked on this forum. Fact is,
hunters have access to Bridgestone/Firestone all year long. They can only hunt during a few months
of the year, but like all citizens, they can access Bridgestone/Firestone all year long for other forms of
recreation. My point is, that ONLY hunters have year round access whereas everyone else is banned
from the majority of the land during hunting season unless they get a hunting license and are hunting.
So, in essence, BS/FS is a hunting preserve ONLY during deer and turkey season. Everyone can use
the land but only during designated periods. The irony is that Hunters get access during the nicest
time of the year to be outdoors and everyone else gets freezing weather and buggy hot weather.
Another irony is that there are many more non hunters wanting to use the property than hunters.
Therefore TWRA is promoting use by a minority while banning the majority. Is that the democratic
way for America? This organization is promoting Room for Both at the same time. Hunters are the
ones who want it all to themselves.