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Tennessee State Parks Win Tennessee Recreation And Parks Association Awards

Thursday, December 07, 2006 | 06:00pm

Nashville, Tenn. – Two Tennessee state parks, a state park friends group, and the chairman of the Commissioner’s Council on Greenways and Trails have all been honored with Four Star Awards by the Tennessee Recreation and Parks Association (TRPA). The Four Star Awards are the highest awards the association gives.

“We’re proud that state parks, friends groups and key volunteers have been recognized for their contributions and achievements,” said Environment and Conservation Commissioner Jim Fyke. “And we’re pleased that many local parks and recreation programs have achieved similar honors. Creating and maintaining places for Tennesseans to enjoy the state’s natural beauty and take part in outdoor activities increases our quality of life.”

Commissioner Fyke will present the TRPA Four Star Benefactor Award to the Friends of Warriors’ Path State Park in a ceremony at the park on Tuesday, December 5, 2006 at 2:00 p.m. EST. The Friends group received the award for its substantial contributions in the development of a universally accessible Boundless Playground at the park. To date, the Friends of Warriors’ Path State Park have raised more than $900,000 through donations from corporations, civic groups and individuals to support the development of the playground for children of all abilities. Groundbreaking for Phase I of the facility took place in Spring 2006, and when complete, the Boundless Playground will include an entry pavilion, picnic pavilion, site amenities, four play areas with interactive exhibits, an accessible tree house, Braille trail and more.

The Tennessee Recreation and Parks Association recently presented the other Four Star Awards at its annual conference at Paris Landing State Park. Those awards include:

The Henry Horton State Park Trap and Skeet Range received the Four Star Renovated Facility Award for extensive renovations to update and improve the facility. The renovations were completed in June 2006 and include new, safer buildings; new, more efficient Matterelli skeet and Pat trap machines; and greater accessibility for people with disabilities. The renovations enabled the range to add two new games and host scholastic trap shoots and other competitive opportunities.

T.O. Fuller State Park received the Four Star Program Award for its Turtle Patrol and Rescue program. The park’s urban location and heavy traffic volume created concern that high numbers of turtles were being killed on Riverport Road, running through the park. The University of Memphis conducted a study and found that most of the turtles killed on the park roadway were adult females in route to lay eggs in a preferred nesting site, then newborn turtles attempting to make their way back across the road. The Friends of T.O. Fuller State Park and area conservationists set out to protect the park’s seven turtle species by training volunteers to collect data to track turtle activity in the park, as well as patrol the busy Riverport Road and assist turtle movement when needed. T.O. Fuller’s Turtle Patrol and Rescue involves and educates park visitors and volunteers in a coordinated effort to protect habitat and the species.

John Wilbanks, Chairman of the Commissioner’s Council on Greenways and Trails received the Four Star Volunteer Service Award for his tireless work to strengthen the greenways and trails movement in Tennessee. Wilbanks oversees Council activities and coordinates with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. He has made a number of critical contributions including working with the department in the development of the Tennessee Greenways and Trails Plan and the 2003-2008 Tennessee State Recreation Plan. Wilbanks is currently Director of the Pigeon Forge Parks and Recreation Department and has previously served as director for the Alcoa, Maryville and Blount County Parks and Recreation departments.

The Tennessee Recreation and Parks Association serves more than 1,300 park, recreation and leisure service professional and citizen advocates in the state. For more information on TRPA, visit the Web site at

More information about Tennessee State Parks, including links to each state park, can be found at:

For more information contact:

Tisha Calabrese-Benton
Office (865) 594-5442

Press Releases | Environment & Conservation