NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) have collaborated to transfer land in White County to increase huntable land and enhance recreational opportunities at the Bridgestone Firestone Centennial Wilderness Wildlife Management Area (WMA) and what will ultimately become the new Scott’s Gulf Wilderness State Park.
The land transfer from TWRA to TDEC involves a formal Transfer of Jurisdiction through ongoing collaboration between them. All state lands will continue to be open and accessible to the public.
“After the area is developed into a park we look forward to welcoming visitors to an extraordinary example of the natural and scenic beauty of the Upper Cumberland and provide a park experience that delivers the very best of Tennessee outdoors with activities like hiking, fishing, wildlife viewing, and primitive camping,” said Greer Tidwell, deputy commissioner of the Bureau of Conservation at TDEC. The park will have limited buildings and infrastructure to retain the ‘wilderness’ nature of the site.”
The land transfer is expected to increase hunting opportunity by almost 5,000 acres, and all huntable land will follow current TWRA regulations. A safety zone will be established north to northwest of Welch’s Point Road in anticipation of what is expected to be a high volume of visitation at the park. Hunting will be prohibited in the safety zone.
TWRA will also conduct ecosystem restoration, habitat management, and wildlife enhancement work on Bridgestone Firestone Centennial Wilderness WMA. These efforts will support rare plant species and wildlife who are dependent on open forest and grassland ecosystems that naturally occur on south and west facing slopes on the Cumberland Plateau.
“This transfer is a win-win for hunters, conservationists, and those who enjoy outdoor recreation,” said Brandon Wear, TWRA Deputy Director of Field Operations. “TWRA is grateful for the opportunity to partner with TDEC on this whole of government approach to conservation, and we look forward to completing critical habitat restoration work that will ensure these ecosystems are here in the community for generations to come.”
"Scott's Gulf Wilderness State Park will be a welcomed addition to the robust and beautiful state park system in our region, said Tennessee Senator Paul Bailey. “The new park will increase tourism and economic development in our rural area as well as provide more opportunities for Tennessee families and visitors to enjoy the unique natural resources of these lands. I look forward to its opening next year and appreciate the work of the TWRA, TDEC and other government officials to create the new park."
Scott’s Gulf Wilderness State Park will be one of four new state parks created through the leadership of Gov. Bill Lee and the Tennessee General Assembly. The other three parks announced in 2023 include Middle Fork Bottoms State Park in Madison County; Devil’s Backbone State Park in Lewis County; and North Chickamauga Creek Gorge State Park on the Cumberland Trail in Hamilton and Sequatchie counties. TDEC last year opened the new Savage Gulf State Park in Grundy and Sequatchie counties, increasing the number of Tennessee State Parks to 57.
Bridgestone Firestone Centennial Wilderness WMA is a 10,000-acre TWRA property with hunting, hiking, and watchable wildlife opportunities. TWRA is the state agency tasked with protecting and preserving wildlife and fisheries populations and habitat for the benefit of Tennesseans and its visitors. The agency has 1.6 million acres of state property under wildlife and forestry management. For more information visit www.TNWildlife.org.