Contact: Mark Lance, Southeastern States Coordinator
- On October 4, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) presented their proposed wildlife habitat improvement plan, primarily directed towards supporting northern bobwhite quail, on the Bridgestone/Firestone Wildlife Management Area (WMA) at the Sparta, TN Civic Center during a public meeting.
- The meeting was scheduled to hear concerns regarding the harvesting of timber on the Bridgestone/Firestone WMA.
- The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) submitted a letter to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency in support of their proposed habitat management plan.
Why it Matters: The establishment of an oak/pine savanna would create quality habitat for quail populations which have been on a continual decline across the Southeast and increase opportunities for hunters. The project would also provide critical habitat diversity that would benefit several other game and non-game wildlife species.
Some residents that live near the Bridgestone/Firestone WMA expressed concerns over the harvesting of hardwoods fearing that their removal will destroy the wildlife habitat value and aesthetics of the area. What many may have overlooked, however, are the benefits that the creation of an oak/pine savanna would bring to the table as far as its benefit to game and non-game wildlife species and ultimately the recreational opportunities provided to hunters and wildlife watchers.
Similarly, in North Carolina, many WMAs (known as Game Lands) are on the N.C. Birding Trail because the diversity of habitats, especially early successional habitats, created through active management are important to birds and therefore birders.
Also lost in translation is the distinction between the colloquial use of “wilderness” versus a federal wilderness area, which may only be established through an act of Congress.
While there were many people that attended the October meeting that opposed the habitat project, there was also a strong contingency of sportsmen and women that showed up to voice support for the TWRA’s proposed habitat restoration project. Hunters that support the project are not limited to bird hunters as the habitat work would benefit deer and turkey populations as well.
The TWRA aims to use the best active forest management practices available to benefit wildlife and forest resources. Their mission is to “conserve, manage, protect, and enhance the fish and wildlife of the state and their habitats,” which includes the northern bobwhite quail and the early successional habitats on which quail depend.
CSF supports science-based wildlife management practices, including the proposed wildlife habitat improvement plan on the Bridgestone/Firestone WMA.
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