White County Executive Denny Wayne Robinson announced Tuesday night that TWRA’s Bridgestone Firestone Centennial Wilderness Area habitat project will not move forward.
“TWRA has decided to cancel their plans to cut the trees,” Robinson said. “They’re not going to do it. But, we don’t have that in writing. It just came this afternoon. I feel confident that they are good to their word on this. It came from high up.”
County Attorney John Meadows said Nashville-based Attorney Austin Warehime relayed the message to the county. Meadows said the county started discussing possible legal avenues against the project with Warehime in December. Meadows said Warehime received word from a state legislator Tuesday that the agency will not advance.
“I was advised today through several telephone calls with Mr. Warehime that he has received word from someone in the legislature that TWRA has express its intention to abandon its plan to proceed with the deforestation plan in this area,” Meadows said. “We were hoping to get some written confirmation of that prior to tonight’s meeting.”
The three-phased habitat project would have changed over 2,000 acres of closed canopies to quail environment over three to five years. Robinson specifically thanked the full commission for its efforts to stop the project.
“It looks like we have finally rattled the right cage,” Robinson said. “I thank everybody that’s been involved in this. (…) It’s definitely a county-wide effort and multi-county effort. I am proud of you guys for taking this stand. You drew the proverbial line in the sand, and they had to answer.”
Meadows said when the plans of the cutting project were discovered, he has never seen such a public outcry. Some 50 residents attended the Tuesday special called meeting.
“That’s evident by the number of people that’s in the room tonight in showing an interest in that,” Meadows said. “Lots of people, lots of the commissioners and Denny Wayne as well were concerned of the state’s intentions. Mr. (Marvin) Bullock I sort of want to give him credit because he sort of spearheaded this.”