Pre-bid proposal conference scheduled for June 21


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — A request for proposal (RFP) is being issued today by the University of Tennessee seeking an industry partner for the UT Institute of Agriculture’s proposed research project to investigate impacts of gas and oil exploration and development. The RFP is intended to identify a potential industry source to conduct the drilling component of a research project proposed by UT AgResearch at its Forest Resources AgResearch and Education Center. Assuming a successful proposal, an industry partner would enter into a lease agreement for access to limited areas of the center’s Cumberland Forest in Scott and Morgan counties.

The RFP process is overseen by the university’s purchasing department and governed by established state regulations. Details of the RFP and related information are online:

In conjunction with UT purchasing, the UT Institute of Agriculture will conduct a pre-bid proposal conference and limited site tour for prospective partners at 8:30 a.m. on Friday, June 21. This meeting will take place at the Cumberland Forest headquarters, 515 Cassell Road, Oliver Springs, Tenn. UT officials will provide a brief overview of project parameters and answer questions about the RFP from industry representatives contemplating submitting a proposal.

While this pre-proposal conference is open to the public, its purpose is for university officials to provide information necessary to prospective industry partners in developing proposals. Questions asked by industry representatives and answers provided will be published in an addendum to the RFP and posted on the UT purchasing department website: Follow the “Bidding Information” link to advertised proposals. The project is listed under Collective Number 30001591.

Members of the public who wish to ask questions about the project and the RFP are encouraged to submit them by email to
gas&oil@tennessee.eduQuestions will be answered individually or collectively, in the case of multiple similar or duplicate submissions.  Answers will be posted for all to see on the website: access questions and answers, click on the “Questions” link along the top bar.

UTIA’s research initiative
seeks to provide baseline data to advance best management practices specific to extracting natural gas and petroleum resources from the shale formations common throughout East Tennessee and the region. The university is seeking a lease agreement with private industry to extract the resources from its Cumberland Forest while scientists study the methodologies and their environmental effects. The properties in Scott and Morgan counties are documented to have reserves of natural gas and oil, and UTIA scientists say it is an ideal location for university-based research into societal concerns regarding natural gas and oil development.

The proposed fact-based, scientific investigation will seek to answer critical research questions regarding the relationships between the development of gas and oil resources through a process called fracking and groundwater quality, wildlife habitat, soil disturbance, geological shale, and individual species of flora and fauna. The successful applicant’s proposal must be reviewed and approved by the State Building Commission prior to finalization of the leasing contract.

The Cumberland Forest headquarters is located in Morgan County, at 515 Cassell Road, Oliver Springs, Tenn.  A sketch of the area is located online at allow a minimum of 40 minutes driving time if coming from Oak Ridge, 60 minutes if arriving from McGhee-Tyson Airport in Knoxville and 60 minutes if coming from Crossville.

The Forest Resources AgResearch and Education Center is an 11,500 acre field research laboratory that has been engaged in natural resources stewardship and research since 1936. The center is a regionally recognized leader in developing new technologies applicable to modern forestry and wildlife resources management and environmental stewardship. FRREC is one of 10 research and education centers in the UT Institute of Agriculture’s AgResearch system. Headquartered in Oak Ridge, the center is comprised of three forest units located in East and Middle Tennessee. 

The UT Institute of Agriculture provides instruction, research and public service through the UT College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, the UT College of Veterinary Medicine, UT AgResearch and UT Extension offices in every county in the state.



Doug Edlund or Patricia McDaniels, UTIA Marketing and Communications, 865-974-7141