Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Old Forest State Natural Area? Yes, we can!

You know how we keep saying that Overton Park's old growth forest needs legal protection? It's time to get that done.

Senator Beverly Marrero and Representative Jeanne Richardson -- the two Tennessee state legislators whose districts cover Overton Park -- just filed a bill to create the 150-acre Old Forest State Natural Area.

Passage of this bill would save the Old Forest from future inappropriate development by placing it under the protective umbrella of the Natural Areas Preservation Act of 1971. It would be the first legal recognition of the value of this remarkable old growth forest.

Tennessee currently has 80 State Natural Areas. Local examples include: the Lucius E. Burch State Natural Area which comprises one-fifth of Shelby Farms' acreage; the amazing bluffs and bottomlands of Meeman-Shelby Forest; the William B. Clark Conservation Area on the Wolf River at Rossville; the Ghost River State Natural Area on the Wolf River between LaGrange and Moscow; and the eagle and waterfowl refuge of Reelfoot Lake.

We need to add the Old Forest to this list of protected public lands in West Tennessee.

How can you help? Please contact your state legislators and ask them to support the designation of the Old Forest State Natural Area. The Senate bill number is SB2415 and the House of Representatives bill is HB2563. (You can read the bill online.) If you don't know who your legislators are, it's easy to find them here.

If you live in Memphis, also take a minute to contact your City Council representatives and Mayor AC Wharton. Our elected officials need to know that the Old Forest has many friends.

Please send us a copy of your message and send thank-you notes to Sen. Marrero and Rep. Richardson. Let them know you appreciate their strong leadership on this issue!

We owe an immense debt to the brave CPOP founders who worked so hard to defend the forest from I-40 in the 1960s. We are grateful to them, and to our wonderful supporters, for inspiring this giant step forward.

Now let's make it happen, y'all.