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My Hero's Hero (Policy Action)


House Budget Amendment #152 and Senate Budget Amendment #81

“When I was kid, this was all forest, as far as the eye could see." Me (and You?)

A Note from Alexis

When despair and destruction rear up in this magical world, I find hope in the knowledge that heroes walk among us, and that those who cheer, support, and offer a hand when one is needed are the hero’s heroes.

Case in point: Kathleen Williams, my aunt and hero. In 2011 she was recognized as Conservationist of the Year for helping restore $16.5 million for land conservation in Tennessee’s State Budget. Ultimately this was made possible by a final push from her heroes, Us.

Today, it's up to us again.

Kathleen’s heroic mission is moving forward, through the introduction of a $35 million budget amendment from the TN General Fund to a conservation trust fund. The vote is expected on Tuesday.


PHOTO: Rep. McCormick, Rep. Sargent, Kathleen Williams (Coordinator, Forever Green Task Force),

Jim Redwine, (Harpeth River Watershed Association), Gary Myers (former executive director of TWRA),

Stewart Clifton (Tennessee Conservation Voters), and Rep. Steve McDaniel

The amendment will mark the first step in Kathleen's new goal, to conserve 1.2 million acres by 2050! This affects everyone, everywhere in the world.

Call 615-741-2001 today, and tell Governor Haslam to include Forever Green Tennessee’s $35 million budget amendment. Additional details can be found here.

Below, Founding Editor Don Williams shares just what's at stake for Tennessee and the world, and why a call from you can make all the difference.

It’s now up to us, the hero’s heroes. Make the call today and be a hero to your grandchildren’s grandchildren, too. 



A Note from Don

NOW is the time to pick up the phone and lay down a legacy

By Don Williams

Here in the Great Smoky Mountains, where eagles nest, bears forage, and lush choirs of birds sing out, we need your voice. Here, in this international biosphere, where trees breathe deep of carbon fumes to exhale sweet oxygen, where an amazing variety of shrubs, vines and grasses filter runoff to keep waters drinkable and livable for fish, waterfowl and critters who prowl shores and woodlands clear to the Mississippi River and beyond, something wondrous is happening.

Just a phone call or three from enough readers could make all the difference in saving a global treasure, if enough readers act NOW—as the Governor and Legislators of Tennessee put finishing touches on a budget that could preserve some of North America’s most biodiverse rivers, farmlands, and woodlands.

Once, for such a cause, I wrote the paragraphs that follow, and readers responded, helping my sister Kathleen Williams—who is leading the effort to Forever Green Tennessee—preserve thousands of acres of crucial woodlands and waterways. She’s at it again, and I couldn’t be prouder. It’s why I’ve chosen this moment—when our Earth is under assault as never before—to speak out again. Read on and see if you have it in your heart to let our leaders know how much you care about the future of our planet, by making a phone call or three, then please sail these comments over the Internet to friends and favorite websites. As I wrote in 2010…


We've probed the oceans, sifted soils, scoured jungles and forests. We've examined moons and planets, and after decades of searching we find that the river-valley system of the Southern Appalachians on Planet Earth remains a gold standard for biodiversity.


Tennessee's smack in the middle of it, so that makes our business your business. Our forests and rivers comprise flourishing habitats and deep carbon wells which benefit the entire world.


Sadly, Tennessee ranks among the top in destruction of habitat. That's why folks who take time to preserve this tapestry that gives rise to songbirds, speckled trout and blue-tailed salamanders are heroes to me…


That was then, and readers responded by joining a cause that preserved some of the most important habitats in North America.

We need your help again. In order to preserve headwaters of some of North America’s most teeming rivers and other treasures, from the Great Smoky Mountains to the Mississippi River, budget initiatives have been introduced to provide $35 million to conserve forested corridors to protect water ($25 million), farm land ($5 million) and historic sites ($5 million).

PHOTO: Julian Carmichael, Harpeth River Watershed Association; Charles Hord, Tennessee Cattlemen Association; Kathleen Williams, Coordinator, Forever Green Task Force; Stewart Clifton, Tennessee Conservation Voters;  

Gary Myers, former director of TWRA; Sen. Bill Ketron; Senate Republican Caucus Chairman

“Although this represents only one-tenth of one percent of Tennessee’s $34 BILLION budget, we know it’s vital,” Kathleen said. “This is a BIG request and we must demonstrate STRONG support!”

Kathleen, coordinator of the Forever Green Tennessee Task Force, has never been one to think small. As Goethe said, “Dream no small dreams, for they have no power to move the hearts of men…” Maybe that’s why thousands have joined together to, well, Forever Green Tennessee.

“We need you to let your voice be heard for the next two weeks,” Kathleen wrote recently. “Many of the 22 legislators we have met in the last two weeks mentioned that they had been contacted and it was important to them to hear from people. We need to have them keep hearing from YOU!”

Here’s how.


Ask Gov. Haslam—615-741-2001—to include $35 million to Forever Green Tennessee in his amended budget (due out April 4) Trust me, he’ll know what you mean.

If you can spare a few more minutes, visit Forever Green TN for a bulleted list of who else needs to hear from you.

You can make a Forever Green Tennessee a reality—and preserve a fountainhead of clean air and water, songbirds and trees, for future generations across our Mother Earth.


Don Williams, a member of the East Tennessee Writers Hall of Fame, is a prize-winning columnist, magazine writer, short story writer, sometime TV commentator and the founding editor emeritus of New Millennium Writings, an annual anthology of stories, essays and poems. His awards include a National Endowment for the Humanities Michigan Journalism Fellowship, a Golden Presscard Award, the Malcolm Law Journalism Prize and many others.

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