CROSSVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA), after several months of soliciting public input and meeting with state and federal agencies, has reached a decision regarding future management plans for the Cummings Cove Wildlife Management Area
The 1,200 acre Cummings Cove WMA is located on Aetna Mountain in Hamilton and Marion counties and was acquired by the state of Tennessee through federal funding from the Forest Legacy program administered by the U.S. Forest Service. Forest Legacy guidelines funding is made available to preserve specific tracts of environmentally sensitive forest land which are considered significant for forest and management purposes.
Land acquired under the Forest Legacy program must adhere to management guidelines and uses, compatible with national conservation standards. "While several public comments supporting recreational use of off-road vehicles (ORVs), on Cummings Cove WMA, that activity is not allowed under Forest Legacy guidelines," John Mayer, TWRA Region III Manager said. "It is also not allowable under rules for state wildlife management areas unless designated trails have been established."
Aetna Mountain has been heavily utilized by ORVs. Some of this use has been very destructive to the environment, particularly in locations utilized by the larger ORVs (4WD trucks, jeeps, and "rock-crawlers").
This environmental issue came to a head in 2010 after a severe mudslide occurred from Aetna Mountain, across U.S. Highway 41, and eventually into the Tennessee River. Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) personnel were able to trace the origin of the mudslide directly to a location heavily utilized by ORVs on Aetna Mountain.
"That landslide was one of those eye-opening events that highlighted just how severe the erosion problems were on Aetna Mountain," Kirk Miles, TWRA Region III Wildlife Program Manager said. "It quickly became obvious that the use of the WMA by ORVs was a core cause of the problem."
Read more about this story at https://news.tn.gov/node/9946