Secretary Haaland Highlights President's Investing in America Agenda, Conservation Efforts in Tennessee Visit

Last edited 10/16/2023

Date: Monday, October 16, 2023


NASHVILLE — Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland wrapped up a multi-day visit to Tennessee as part of the Biden-Harris administration’s Investing in America tour, where she highlighted how historic investments are helping to protect, conserve and expand our nation’s public lands. The trip included a community celebration for the newly established Paint Rock River National Wildlife Refuge in Franklin County.

Secretary Haaland and Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks Shannon Estenoz toured Great Smoky Mountains National Park to see how investments from President Biden’s Investing in America agenda and the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA) are making historic investments. The Inflation Reduction Act is helping provide a unique investment for the park, including $5 million to increase employee capacity through fiscal year 2030, and $345,000 for the park and other National Park Service sites to promote forest resiliency and protect natural and cultural resources.

The GAOA established the National Parks and Public Land Legacy Restoration Fund (LRF), a bipartisan investment that improves visitor experiences, bolsters climate resilience and invests in the economy by creating good-paying jobs in recreation areas, national parks, wildlife refuges and Bureau of Indian Education funded schools. Great Smoky Mountains National Park received $31 million in funding from the GAOA to rehabilitate 17 miles of the scenic roadway used by more than 700,000 visitors annually. This project reduced more than $25 million in deferred maintenance associated with the Parkway, supported 400 jobs and is helping contribute $85.5 million to the nation’s economy.

Secretary Haaland and Assistant Secretary Estenoz also visited the Moccasin Bend National Archaeological District in Chattanooga. The area was established by Congress in 2003 as the first and only National Park Service National Archeological District to preserve, protect and interpret 12,000 years of Native American presence on Moccasin Bend, from transitional Paleo-Indian/Archaic through Woodland and Mississippian periods, up to historic Creek and Cherokee inhabitation.

Portions of the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail, commemorating the tragic Cherokee Removal period of the 1830s, run through this region, including an original land route segment on and water routes around Moccasin Bend. Moccasin Bend retains profound cultural importance for 23 associated Tribes with ancestral ties to the area. During the visit, the leaders met with NPS staff to discuss infrastructure investments in the area and efforts to protect sensitive natural and cultural resources from the impacts of erosion.

On Saturday, Secretary Haaland, Assistant Secretary Estenoz, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Martha Williams visited the new Paint Rock River National Wildlife Refuge in Franklin County. Secretary Haaland’s remarks highlighted how the expansion of the National Wildlife Refuge System furthers the Biden-Harris administration’s work to support community-driven efforts to conserve and restore the nation’s lands and waters through America the Beautiful. The visit came at the end of National Wildlife Refuge Week, which commemorates the important role the Refuge System plays in providing vital habitat for wildlife species, offering outdoor recreation access to the public, and bolstering climate resilience across the country.


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