parks

Most Tennessee state parks to reopen Friday

Most of Tennessee’s shuttered state parks will reopen on Friday. All of the state’s 56 parks and natural areas were shuttered amid Gov. Bill Lee’s statewide stay-at-home order. The Republican governor on Monday  announced plans to let that order expire on April 30.

The parks will be open for daytime use only and social distancing guidelines will remain in effect. Visitors are urged to go to parks closest to their homes.

Here’s the release from the Department of Environment and Conservation.

NASHVILLE –Tennessee State Parks will reopen most of its 56 state parks on Friday, April 24, for day-use only. Specific details on which parks will reopen will be available on tnstateparks.com this week.

“We are eager to serve once again but we urge Tennesseans to continue to practice physical distancing when visiting parks,” Jim Bryson, deputy commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, said. “We have implemented policies designed to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and we will monitor all aspects of the issue to ensure safety among visitors and our staff.”

When considering a visit, Tennessee State Parks encourages the following:

  • Stay at home if you are sick or do not feel well.
  • Maintain at least six feet of distance between you and other visitors.
  • Visit parks that are only a short distance from your home.
  • Consider visiting earlier in the day so you can adjust plans if a park is full. Tennessee State Parks may limit access to certain parks or areas if capacity is reached.
  • Plan ahead. Many Tennessee State Parks buildings will be closed. Plan to bring your own snacks, water and hand sanitizer.
  • Prepare for limited or no bathroom access. Some restrooms remain open, but many will not.
  • Consider bringing a mask and wearing it when around other people.
  • Carry your trash with you or dispose of it in the appropriate containers to help keep our cleaning staff safe and our parks litter-free.

Overcrowding may cause entire parks or portions of parks to close again.

Facilities and gathering areas, including pavilions and playgrounds, will remain closed. Cabins, lodges, restaurants, campgrounds, and group camps remain closed. For up-to-date information on park closure please visit www.tnstateparks.com.

Haslam names state park after Lamar Alexander

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Maryville), left, and Gov. Bill Haslam attend an event at the state Capitol in Nashville. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

 

Gov. Bill Haslam is renaming Rocky Fork State Park in Unicoi County after U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, who has announced he won’t seek another term in Congress in 2020.

Rocky Fork became Tennessee’s 55th state park when it opened in 2015. Alexander had been influential in securing more than $30 million in federal funding to buy the 15-square-mile tract to add it to the Cherokee National Forrest.

Here’s a release from Haslam’s office:

FLAG POND – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam by executive order has renamed Rocky Fork State Park in Unicoi County as Lamar Alexander Rocky Fork State Park, honoring Tennessee’s senior senator for his record of service and commitment to preservation.

“Senator Alexander has spent a lifetime serving Tennesseans and promoting Tennessee to the world,” Haslam said. “He loves the state from Memphis to Mountain City. His roots are in East Tennessee, and it is fitting that this special place in this special state bears his name. Tennessee’s state parks are indebted to him and his service both as governor and as senator, and visitors to this state park will be reminded of his work every time they visit.”

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Senate votes to expand Shiloh National Military Park

Press release from Sen. Lamar Alexander

WASHINGTON, June 7, 2018 – United States Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today said the Senate’s passage of his bill to expand the Shiloh National Military Park in Shiloh, Tennessee, will help attract more visitors to Tennessee, boost local economies, and protect the site for future generations.

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Legislator’s relative, others lose jobs in shutdown of Fall Creek Falls State Park Inn

Fewer than half the state employees who lost their jobs when the Fall Creek Falls State Park’s Inn and Conference Center was closed — months before its scheduled demolition to make way for building a new $30 million facility  – got new state jobs and some of those who did are paid less and face a much longer drive, reports Sam Stockard. Some are blaming state officials for poor planning.

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Alexander, Zinke visit Smoky Mountains to pitch more spending on National Park maintenance

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke and U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander visited the Great Smoky Mountains National Park Saturday to lament the past lack of money for national park maintenance and to promote “The National Park Restoration Act,” a bill pending in Congress to change the situation, reports the News Sentinel.

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U.S. House approves step toward making Polk home part of National Park system

Press release from U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais

WASHINGTON, D.C. —  Today, the House of Representatives passed Congressman Scott DesJarlais’ bill to study the feasibility of placing the President James K. Polk Home and Museum in Columbia, Tennessee, under protection of the National Park Service. An Interior Department study would be a major step towards helping the charity that maintains the property to preserve and expand it.

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Martineau exits as TDEC commissioner; joins real estate development firm

Press release from the governor’s office

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) Commissioner Bob Martineau will return to work in the private sector in May.

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Alexander pushes use of offshore drilling money to pay for National Park repairs

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander says he’s hopeful for passage this year of “the National Park Restoration Act” that could wipe out about $7 billion of backlogged maintenance in the National Parks Service over the next decade, reports the Times Free Press.

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Comptroller finds no major legal problems in Memphis Confederate statues maneuver

Press release from Office of the Comptroller

The Comptroller’s Office has completed a review of the City of Memphis’ December 20, 2017 sale of Health Sciences Park and the easement to Memphis Park to Memphis Greenspace, Inc.

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Memphis sells city parks, buyer removes Confederate statues

A private group headed by a county commissioner and fueled by anonymous donations bought two parks from the city of Memphis at little cost this week in a maneuver that cleared the way for swift removal of two Confederate statutes that have sparked conflict for years, reports the Associated Press.

Shelby County Commissioner and attorney Van Turner told a news conference Thursday that his group, Memphis Greenspace Inc., is ready for any lawsuits that arise from its deal with the city, which took months of planning to sidestep a Tennessee law that makes it tough to take down Confederate monuments on public grounds.

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