jim bryson

State parks closure extended until further notice

A workout area is taped off in Nashville due to the coronavirus pandemic on April 2, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

The closure of Tennessee’s 56 state parks and natural areas had been scheduled to expire on Tuesday. Now it’s been extended until further notice.

“We want to make sure that when we do reopen, visitors and our park staff can feel confident in their safety,” said Jim Bryson, the deputy commissioner of the state Department of Environment and Conservation. “With health and safety at the forefront, we look forward to getting people back into the outdoors – beyond their backyards and neighborhoods – to experience the natural wonders our state has to offer.”

Here’s the full release from TDEC:

NASHVILLE – Tennessee State Parks today announced it will extend the closure of all 56 state parks as officials at the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation continue to monitor health and safety guidance related to COVID-19.

The announcement extends Tennessee State Parks’ current closure beyond the previously announced April 14. Officials are closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation and will notify the public when parks reopen.

“We are grateful for the cooperation and understanding of Tennesseans during this difficult period,” Jim Bryson, deputy commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, said. “We are extending closure of the parks in the interest of safety for everyone.” 

Tennessee has one of the top state park systems in the country. As the weather grew warmer, state parks saw staggering increases in visitor traffic, including from out of state visitors. While normally desirable, this increased visitation presented situations where it was difficult for park visitors and staff to maintain safe distances from each other.

“We want to make sure that when we do reopen, visitors and our park staff can feel confident in their safety,” Bryson said. “With health and safety at the forefront, we look forward to getting people back into the outdoors – beyond their backyards and neighborhoods – to experience the natural wonders our state has to offer.”

Former Republican gubernatorial nominee joins Lee administration

Jim Bryson (handout photo)

Jim Bryson, a onetime Republican gubernatorial nominee, is joining Gov. Bill Lee’s administration.

Bryson was a state senator when he lost to then-Gov. Phil Bredesen in the 2006 governor’s race. He has been appointed deputy commissioner of parks and conservation at the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. Bryson joins a fellow former state lawmaker Joe Carr as a deputy commissioner at the agency.

Here’s the full release from the Lee administration:

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation Commissioner David Salyers today announced the appointment of Jim Bryson as deputy commissioner of Parks and Conservation at TDEC.

“Jim’s experience in business, state government and community involvement, coupled with his passion for the outdoors, makes him uniquely qualified for this position,” Salyers said. “I look forward to working with Jim to make Tennessee State Parks the best run state park system in the nation.”

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