About the Department

Our Mission

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) 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
  • Providing a variety of quality outdoor recreational experiences

Our department is committed to providing a cleaner, safer environment that goes hand-in-hand with economic prosperity and increased quality of life in Tennessee. We deliver on our mission through managing regulatory programs that maintain standards for air, water and soil quality while providing assistance to businesses and communities in areas ranging from recreation to waste management. We also manage the state park system and programs to inventory, interpret and protect Tennessee’s rich natural, historical and archaeological heritage.

Our Organization

TDEC is organized and administered to effectively protect human health and the environment, conserve natural resources, manage state parks and promote overall quality of life in Tennessee.

Our department is the chief environmental and natural resource regulatory agency in Tennessee. We have delegated responsibility from the U.S. EPA to regulate sources of:

  • Air pollution
  • Solid and hazardous waste
  • Radiological health issues
  • Underground storage tanks
  • Water pollution, water supply and groundwater

Our department has eight environmental field offices located across the state. We offer a program of grants and loans to assist local communities with the development and maintenance of drinking water and wastewater infrastructure as well as solid waste disposal, waste prevention, plus programs for recycling, parks, greenways and trails. We promote both front-end environmental education and strong, effective enforcement.

Our department manages state parks and state natural areas encompassing more than 200,000 acres across Tennessee - ranging from rustic natural and historic sites to resort parks with four inns, seven restaurants, three marinas and the nine golf courses on the Tennessee Golf Trail. We feature more than 3,000 campsites in 36 park campgrounds while offering interpretative and resource-based recreation activities, including birding, biking, fishing, hiking and swimming. In addition to protecting natural resources and providing outdoor recreational opportunities for Tennesseans, Tennessee State Parks and natural areas are economic engines, pumping millions of dollars into local economies and creating thousands of jobs. Tennessee State Parks drew more than 38 million visitors in 2017/18. Learn more about Tennessee State Parks’ mission.

Our People

Whether in the Central Office in downtown Nashville, in one of our eight field offices across the state, our DOE Oversight office at Oak Ridge or in one of our state parks, TDEC staff perform a variety of daily activities to protect our natural resources and improve our quality of life:

TDEC counts on citizens to help locate problems and identify issues related to their local environment. Citizens can reach TDEC by calling 1-888-891-TDEC (8332) or by emailing ask.tdec@tn.gov.

TDEC scientists measure parameters in air, water and soil to assess Tennessee’s environmental health. The information collected enables TDEC and other stakeholders to set priorities and address opportunities for environmental improvements in a timely manner.

Environmental permits help TDEC ensure that entities comply with state and federal laws, while protecting the environment and public. TDEC issues more than 50 different permits. Permits are an environmental blueprint, describing how permitted entities minimize pollution.

To help ensure that entities comply with their permits, TDEC conducts announced and unannounced inspections of underground storage tanks, x-ray machines, water and wastewater treatment facilities, construction sites, industries emitting air pollution, landfills and other regulated sites. If inspectors identify a potential violation, TDEC works to bring the facility into compliance through education, technical assistance or corrective action.

Along with education and technical assistance, enforcement is a vital part of ensuring individuals and entities comply with environmental regulations. Enforcement helps return violators to compliance, prevent misconduct, eliminate environmental harm and preserve a level playing field for those that abide by the law.

TDEC’s Bureau of Conservation manages approximately 200,000 acres in 56 Tennessee State Parks and 84 State Natural Areas. From archaeologically significant locations to historic places, TDEC protects and interprets a rich tapestry of authentic Tennessee stories and sites.

TDEC offers diverse outdoor recreational experiences across our state parks. More than 200 trails provide almost 1,200 miles of hiking, biking and horseback riding opportunities. TDEC actively supports and enhances local community parks, greenways and trails through extensive grant programs and consultative services.

As prime tourist attractions, TDEC draws citizens from nearby and visitors from across the nation to our parks. Overnight guests enjoy a range of accommodations from environmentally-friendly cabins and renovated campgrounds to lakeside inns and restaurants at our resort parks. Park rangers and hospitality services staff work to ensure each guest receives an exceptional recreational, dining and overnight experience.

TDEC engages individuals and organizations interested in environmental policy and procedures in the agency’s decision-making process. Through public hearings, meetings and other types of public information sessions, the public provides input on proposed actions that TDEC takes to protect the environment.

TDEC helps local governments by giving out millions of dollars in grants each year to support projects that protect the environment and conserve resources. In FY 2014, TDEC grants provided approximately $24 million to more than 170 entities.

Our Vision for the Future

With our mission at the forefront, we seek to make Tennessee a national model of environmental stewardship. Working together, we will protect our environment and conserve critical natural resources for future generations while we make Tennessee an even better place to live, work, play and raise a family.

This Page Last Updated: May 20, 2024 at 9:13 AM