The Early Years
The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) is charged with managing Tennessee’s vast wildlife resources and providing quality hunting and fishing opportunities for the public. This is a daunting task considering the varied interests of Tennessee’s sportsmen and women and the limited amount of funding available to support important programs and initiatives. Unlike some state wildlife agencies, TWRA does not receive monies from Tennessee’s General Fund. Instead, the majority of the agency’s funding is generated directly through license sales. Being a state agency, TWRA is also constrained by state procedures/protocols in regard to contracting for service and land acquisition.
The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Foundation, Inc. (TWRF) was established as a 501©(3) nonprofit in 1999 to support TWRA. The original incorporators of TWRF, former wildlife commissioners, envisioned TWRF utilizing charitable donations to assist TWRA with strategic land acquisitions. As a nonprofit organization, TWRF has the ability to move quickly to close on properties and pay more than appraised value, if necessary, to acquire highly-desired tracts of land to expand existing wildlife management areas, or establish new public hunting areas.
Soon TWRF’s mission expanded to include the administration of program accounts for TWRA. TWRF’s nonprofit status allowed monies raised by wildlife officers and others in their communities to be held in restricted accounts to support various local youth programs across the state. In 2003, TWRF assumed the responsibility for administering the Tennessee Stream Mitigation Program, Tennessee’s first in-lieu-fee program. Through TSMP, TWRF accepted fees for unavoidable impacts to streams associated with state and federal water quality permitting. By accepting these fees, TSMP accepts the legal liability of providing the required compensatory mitigation. These restricted funds are to be used solely for the purpose of identification, development, implementation, and monitoring of stream restoration and enhancement projects across the state.
In 2005, TWRF partnered with TWRA to purchase a 147-acre tract in Montgomery County to develop the Montgomery County Shooting Complex as a public shooting range. TWRF’s ownership of the property made it possible to streamline construction of the facility, taking advantage or significant cost savings, while avoiding the many bureaucratic entanglements of the more burdensome requirements of state building projects. Through this partnership, TWRA allocated countless man-hours and equipment as well as thousands of dollars of federal grant money for the construction and management of the world-class public shooting facility.
Banner Image - Vintage double-barreled shotgun and paper shells - Photo Credit: Richard Logsdon