May 28, 2023

Tennessee Wildlife Resources Commission Closes Public Lands to Hunting

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It’s all about public image and perception and you would think politicians would know that, young or old. Recently, the Tennessee Wildlife Resouces Commission met and decided to close a portion of the Old Hickory Lock 5 south of the Cumberland River, a parcel of public lands that has been open to hunting for several years. That in itself may not have been that big a deal but how the vote came about is upsetting some people, including hunters, and rightfully so.

The TWRC had their meeting, which is open to the public, and during that meeting one man, representing 12 landowners adjacent to the Lock 5 parcel, spoke in favor of closing the land to hunting because of problems with hunters and trespassing. There was no notice to the public that the TWRC was considering closing the land to hunting.

On top of that, the one representative of the landowners, David McMahan, is a lobbyist. He is also friends with Commission member Tom Hensley. Oh, yeah! Did I mention that McMahan and Hensley are also fellow lobbyists?

TWRC chairman Buddy Baird says that the vote to close was the right thing to do and doesn’t regret closing the land. The vote to close passed the commission in a 8-4 vote.

I am not familiar with past history and present problems associated with the parcel of public land in central Tennessee. According to Baird, about 15 or 20 years ago another commission member worked to get the land opened up to hunting. Baird accuses those who got the land opened as having been done via the same tactics he is being accused of using – “good ole boy politics”.

Whether the move to close the land or not was the right thing to do, I’m not sure. How the process came about appears to be bad. Whether it is “good ole boy politics” or not, the appearance is such. Because of the choices made by the commission to handle this matter in the manner they did, now leaves wide open the door of mistrust on all other issues coming before the board. They certainly have some fence mending to do to say the least. If this is a case of “good ole boy politics”, shame on them and maybe some changes would be in order.

Read more about this story at the Chattanoogan.

Tom Remington