Ken Yager

School is out and summer is in!  And, there is nowhere better to enjoy summer activities than Tennessee’s beautiful state parks.  There is a state park within an hour’s drive of just about anywhere in Tennessee.  Several of the most beautiful state parks in Tennessee are located in our 12th senatorial district including Indian Mountain in Jellico, Cove Lake in Caryville, Frozen Head in Wartburg, Norris Dam in Lake City, Cordell Hull Birthplace in Byrdstown, Cumberland Trail in Caryville and Pickett in Jamestown, as well as the Alvin C. York Historic Park in Pall Mall.

As I have traveled the district, I can attest to the fact that these state parks are among finest in the nation.  Whether you want to stay in a cabin, lodge, or camp, or enjoy a vast array of outdoor activities, they are Tennessee treasures for everyone to enjoy in our own backyard.

The first state parks were established through legislation in 1937 as a result of work done by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC).  The CCCs provided work and vocational training for unemployed Tennesseans after the Great Depression through conserving and developing the country’s natural resources.  In our district, Pickett, Norris Dam, and Cove Lake State Parks were among the 17 state parks in Tennessee where the CCC’s efforts can still be enjoyed today.  Their work continues to stand the test of time as a monument to the era which ushered in the “greatest generation.”

These parks also have a tremendous number of trails.  This fact was highlighted by National Trails Day where our state parks featured numerous hikes to mark the day.  The hikes vary from park to park, but there is a wide variety of trails to choose from to fit everyone.  Of special interest to many nature enthusiasts is the 2019 “Waterfall Tours.”  Six tours have been created to show off the parks most remarkable areas.   

We are also fortunate to have so many “Friends Groups” and tremendous support from our local communities for these parks.  I commend all of these citizens for their hard work in preserving our parks for generations to come.

Besides serving as places of natural beauty and recreation, our state parks also have a huge economic impact on Tennessee, especially in rural areas.  A University of Tennessee study estimated the economic impact of state parks resulted in more than $725 million in direct expenditures by state park visitors.

For every direct dollar spent, an additional $1.11 of economic activity was generated in the state. When the direct and indirect expenditures were combined, the impact of Tennessee State Parks to the state’s economy was $1.5 billion in total industry output, supporting almost 20,000 jobs.

Please take the opportunity to look at the Tennessee State Park website to plan your next trip, whether it is for a day or a week.  This website will provide you with a roadmap of recreational activities you may want to consider.  It is at https://tnstateparks.com.

Our state parks are treasures which not only draw tourists to Tennessee, but give our citizens the opportunity to enjoy outdoor activities and Tennessee’s rich beauty without having to drive hundreds of miles from home.  We must continue to maintain and enhance them for future generations of Tennesseans to enjoy.