NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) is not moving forward with habitat restoration plans in the north unit on Bridgestone Firestone WMA at this time. TWRA will further discuss possible modifications of plans with partners and others to decide what is best for wildlife and the community.
“The TWRA and our partners have a goal of continued restoration efforts to increase native savanna/grassland/shrublands habitat on Bridgestone-Firestone WMA,” said Bobby Wilson Executive Director, TWRA. “The decision to suspend this particular project was made in response to the community’s opposition and is not based on the best science or what’s best for wildlife. We do value the community and want to work with partners to come up with a plan that is beneficial for wildlife while allowing the community to give feedback.”
The management plans that TWRA has for converting closed canopy forest into savanna/grasslands/shrublands are going to continue in Tennessee as well as on the southern portion of Bridgestone Firestone WMA. The converting of closed canopy forests back into savanna/grassland/shrubland is one of the most critical needs for species of greatest conservation concern and game species. The best science available confirms this, and TWRA will continue to fulfill our mission through active management on state-owned WMAs. The diversity of habitat maintained for wildlife is vital.
By creating savannas, grasslands and shrublands, TWRA is restoring native grasslands, one of the most endangered habitats on the planet and once common but now almost completely absent in Tennessee. Nearly 99% of all historical native grassland areas in the southeastern U.S have been destroyed, including those on the Cumberland Plateau of TN. This work benefits all wildlife that depend on this habitat type including game species as well as Species of Greatest Conservation Need, including prairie warbler, field sparrow, loggerhead shrike, yellow-breasted chat, indigo bunting, blue grosbeak and bobwhite quail. Additionally, many insects and other pollinators, and numerous herbaceous plants will all benefit from these improvements. This habitat restoration also creates a habitat far more critical to the diversity and conservation of all wildlife species than a landscape dominated by a closed canopy forest, which is the status of many of the lands surrounding the WMA.