TDEC at 25

On February 4, 1991, then Tennessee Governor Ned McWherter issued executive orders than merged environmental programs from the Department of Health and Environment with the Department of Conservation effective July 1, 1991. While these environmental protection and conservation programs existed before 1991, this unification into a combined department marked an important milestone in state government.

“Environmental issues are of such importance that the state of Tennessee should address these issues through a single agency.” - Tennessee Gov. Ned Ray McWherter, February 1991

TDEC's silver anniversary is an opportunity to take stock of the promise made in 1991 to “strengthen environmental safeguards.”  Read Tennessee's State of the Environment in 1991. Throughout 2016 the department will be reflecting on how far we have come in Tennessee and how much progress we have made in the quality of our air, land and water, but will also identify areas to make even more progress. We have made many improvements in protecting public health and the environment at the same time our state has undergone significant growth, demonstrating that environmental protection and economic development are not an either/or choice. This anniversary is an opportunity for the department and all Tennesseans to rally around our success, to refocus our collective resources and resolve, and also begin identifying emerging issues that another TDEC commissioner will be taking stock of 25 years from now. We have a proud heritage at TDEC and expect an even brighter tomorrow for Tennessee.

TDEC at 25 Homecoming Event on August 31

The capstone event for our 25th Anniversary was a TDEC at 25 homecoming event on Aug. 31 in Nashville. The highlight was a panel discussion featuring former commissioners, including J.W. Luna, Justin Wilson Betsy Child, and Jim Fyke via video (View Jim's video message), who shared reflections from their time leading the department. We were honored to have Gov. Haslam participate in this gathering to salute current and former TDEC employees on what the department has accomplished for Tennessee, our environment and natural resources over the past 25 years.

These current and former employees also shared reflections:

Statewide TDEC Silver Anniversary Kick-off on February 4

To mark the anniversary date of our department’s creation - Feb. 4, 1991 - state park restaurants prepared special 25th Anniversary cakes to kick off TDEC’s 25th Anniversary Season on Feb. 4, at field offices, state parks and the Tennessee Tower. This delicious cake and refreshments joined stories about the way things used to be 25 years ago as the order of the afternoon. Commissioner Martineau hosted the Central Office kickoff in the Tennessee Tower with special guest J.W. Luna, TDEC’s first commissioner. It was great to see and hear from former Commissioner Luna as he shared his reflections on how the department was created back in 1991. Read more by Commissioner Luna in The Tennessee Conservationist magazine.

Since we had 18 different event locations, Commissioner Martineau taped a Silver Anniversary message for all TDEC employees – whether they were at Pickwick Landing, our Nashville Field Office, or our DOE-Oversight Office in Oak Ridge. He also made a point to recognize more than 300 “Here from the Beginning” employees that came from Health & Environment or Conservation to be part of the brand new TDEC on Day One that are still hard at work today for Tennessee citizens.

Looking to the Future: It's All Connected

As we celebrate 25 years of environmental progress and conservation achievements for Tennessee, TDEC's progress is part of a larger network spanning local, state and federal government, public and private entities, individuals and communities. TDEC is most successful in achieving our goals when we are working with strong partners in solid partnerships.

Current and emerging challenges are more diffuse than one big source of pollution, bigger than one industry, resist just one answer, and cut across traditional boundaries. That's why our department has broadened its capacity over the past five years in crosscutting areas like sustainability, energy efficiency, community outreach, environmental education and resource conservation programs that help our citizens make the best environmental choices each day. By reaching out to our citizens we help them make lifestyle changes that help protect and conserve our environment. Small decisions such as recycling aluminum cans, carpooling and using energy efficient light bulbs help protect and preserve our natural resources

We’re encouraged by our shared successes but also look forward to working with more partners - public and private, large and small, urban and rural, citizen and company- as we continue to protect our environment for future generations and make Tennessee an even better place to live, work and play.