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Hiwassee/Ocoee Scenic River State Park Honored for Customer Engagement

Thursday, August 26, 2021 | 02:19pm

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) has named Hiwassee/Ocoee Scenic River State Park in Delano its top park in the state for customer engagement, part of the 2021 Tennessee State Parks Awards of Excellence. The park was honored at a recent park management conference at Pickwick Landing State Park.

“Hiwassee/Ocoee Scenic River State Park has found numerous ways to interact with the community, and we are pleased to honor it in this way,” Jim Bryson, deputy commissioner of TDEC, said. “All of our parks are doing an excellent job at serving visitors, so to stand out in customer engagement says a lot about the staff at this park.”

Among numerous forms of interacting with the community, the park staff in the last year created or participated in videos to promote responsible camping. It used virtual classes and social media posts to keep guests informed about changes at the park and allowed them to engage virtually. It adapted quickly to COVID to meet the needs of visitors. A plan was developed that allowed the Ocoee to have a rafting season despite the pandemic, leading to the busiest August the Ocoee had seen in a decade. The local economy was bolstered.

The park was involved in planning and community resource meetings during the pandemic. Staff developed a good relationship with county commissioners. The park reached out to veterans for a Raft for Freedom event on Independence Day and had a Christmas Day dinner for the third straight year to provide for those in need. Park rangers were involved in the community such as leading Girl Scout troops or coaching wrestling or Little League.  

The Tennessee State Parks Awards of Excellence also recognized winners in other specific categories, including Pickett CCC Memorial State Park for excellence in facilities management; Warriors’ Path State Park for innovation; Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park for interpretation; Pickwick Landing State Park for sustainability; and Johnsonville State Historic Park for resource management. Cummins Falls State Park was honored as State Park of the Year for its overall performance.