Tennessee State Parks Named Finalist for National Gold Medal Award
Tennessee State Parks, which are operated by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, have been named a finalist for the 2017 National Gold Medal Awards for Excellence in Park and Recreation Management. The awards are organized by the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration (AAPRA) in partnership with the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA).
“To be named a finalist for this prestigious award validates the commitments made by the Department, our parks staff, Gov. Haslam and the Tennessee General Assembly to ensure the protection and preservation of our natural, cultural and historic resources in Tennessee,” said TDEC Commissioner Bob Martineau. “We have worked hard over the past six years to add three new parks and more than 30,000 acres to our system, to protect and preserve our resources, and to enhance the visitors’ experience at our parks with improved facilities and expanded interpretive programming. We are very excited and proud that these efforts are being recognized at the national level.”
Since 2011, in an effort to provide a better visitor experience, TDEC has renovated or constructed more than 30 park facilities across the state, including 10 campgrounds and made ADA upgrades at four parks. Highlights of recent park additions include a new Visitors Center at Bledsoe Creek State Park, a new Group Camp at Booker T. Washington State Park and a converted Interpretive Center at Cumberland Mountain State Park. Visitation at Tennessee State Parks has increased by nearly 15 percent, thanks in part to enhanced interpretive programming and unique recreation excursions through Tennessee’s most scenic natural places.
“During my time with Tennessee State Parks, we have worked with the legislature, local communities and non-government organizations to protect more land, preserve Tennessee’s cultural and historical heritage, and make unique recreation opportunities available for visitors,” said TDEC Deputy Commissioner of Parks and Conservation Brock Hill. “We are proud to have accomplished so much and be included in this fine group of finalists who represent the esteemed network that is the United States’ state park systems.”
Founded in 1965, the Gold Medal Awards program honors communities in the U.S. that demonstrate excellence in parks and recreation through long-range planning, resource management, volunteerism, environmental stewardship, program development, professional development and agency recognition. Applications are separated into seven classes, with five classes based on population, one class for armed forces recreation and one class for state park systems awarded on odd numbered years.
Agencies are judged on their ability to address the needs of those they serve through the collective energies of citizens, staff and elected officials. Tennessee State Parks joins three other finalists in their class that will compete for grand honors this year: Arizona State Parks and Trails, Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission, and Wyoming State Parks – Historic Sites and Trails.
This year’s finalists will compete for Grand Plaque Award honors this summer, and the seven Grand Plaque recipients will be announced live during the NRPA General Session at the 2017 NRPA Annual Conference in New Orleans, Sept. 26-28, 2017.
Tennessee State Parks was established in 1937 to protect and preserve the unique natural, cultural and historic resources of Tennessee. The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation exists to enhance the quality of life for citizens of Tennessee and to be stewards of our natural environment by: protecting and improving the quality of Tennessee’s air, land and water through a responsible regulatory system; protecting and promoting human health and safety; conserving and promoting natural, cultural and historic resources; and providing a variety of quality outdoor recreational experiences. For more information, visit http://tnstateparks.com/ and http://tn.gov/environment.
The American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration is a non-profit organization founded to advance knowledge related to the administration of recreation and parks; to encourage scholarly efforts by both practitioners and educators that would enhance the practice of park and recreation administration; to promote broader public understanding of the importance of parks and recreation to the public good; and, to conduct research, publish scholarly papers and sponsor seminars related to the advancement of park and recreation administration. For more information, visit www.aapra.org.
The National Recreation and Park Association is a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to ensuring that all Americans have access to parks and recreation for health, conservation and social equity. Through its network of nearly 60,000 recreation and park professionals and advocates, NRPA encourages the promotion of healthy and active lifestyles, conservation initiatives and equitable access to parks and public space. For more information, visit www.nrpa.org. For digital access to NRPA’s flagship publication, Parks & Recreation, visit www.parksandrecreation.org.
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