Skip to Content

Scientist’s Research Shows No Need For TWRA Cutting Project

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
Scientist’s Research Shows No Need For TWRA Cutting Project

A forest and grasslands scientist says TWRA’s quail habitat project in White County is not backed by scientific reasoning.

University of the South Biology Professor Dr. Jon Evans studies ecology on the Cumberland Plateau. He said there is ample land in state ownership that better suits the project.

“We have vastly more quail habitat available to us now to manage within state ownership then we’ve ever had in the past, and so, quail is in no danger of having any problem down the line in terms of what’s being managed for state property, and there is no reason whatsoever that we need to be converting existing forest,” Evans said.

According to TWRA, declining quail population numbers led to the project. However, Evans said quail populations soared to an artificial level in the 1800’s due to forests transitioning to farms. As society moved from farming, population levels have dropped closer to equilibrium.

“This bird went from an all-time high, an artificial high to starting to decline,” Evans said. “So if you pick up in the 1960’s a trend, you’re going to pick up a downward trend from an artificial high.”

Evans said when the pine timber industry moved away from the state in the 2000’s, the state acquired a lot of the land. Evans said these properties could grow back as grasslands and serve as a perfect habitat for quail instead of the Bridgestone Firestone Wilderness area.

“We can take forest that has already been cleared, managed for pine and abandoned and now in state ownership, we could take that and potentially use large amounts of that for quail, which one could argue is disproportionately too much for one species,” Evans said. “In regards to Bridgestone Firestone, these existing upland forest areas they don’t need that land for that purpose.”

Evans said another important aspect to consider in this habitat project is the historical use of the land. Evans said he has found that the Bridgestone Firestone Wilderness Area has always been oak woodland forest, so a grasslands restoration would go against the guidelines of the giving of the land.

“The most important thing going forward here is that we try to reach a consensus on what is the scientific understanding that underpins these decision making processes going forward,” Evans said. “Until there is a consensus there, I think the people of Tennessee are not being well served.”


The post Scientist’s Research Shows No Need For TWRA Cutting Project appeared first on News Talk 94.1/AM 1600.