Environment and Conservation Celebrates National Public Lands Day in Tennessee on September 29
Volunteerism protects, preserves shared natural resources
NASHVILLE – The Department of Environment and Conservation invites the public to take part in volunteer activities across Tennessee in celebration of National Public Lands Day on Saturday, Sept. 29.
National Public Lands Day is the nation's largest one-day, volunteer stewardship event. Organizers seek to honor the legacy of the Civilian Conservation Corps in protecting America's public lands. Last year, more than 170,000 volunteers across the country built trails, planted trees and removed litter to improve America’s shared lands for all who visit them.
“National Public Lands Day is a wonderful tradition that combines the opportunity to get outdoors with the spirit of volunteerism,” said Environment and Conservation Commissioner Bob Martineau. “Tennessee is the Volunteer State and we encourage everyone to join us in this statewide effort, helping us preserve and protect our great state parks and natural areas.”
National Public Lands Day began in 1994 with just three federal agencies and 700 volunteers. Today, this annual program of the National Environmental Education Foundation has grown to involve more than 105,000 volunteers at over 2,000 locations in every state across the nation. Chartered by Congress in 1990, the National Environmental Education Foundation is a private, nonprofit organization that develops and supports environmental learning programs to meet social goals and build partnerships among government, the private sector and non-governmental organizations. Those interested in organizing a National Public Lands Day project or volunteering can call (202) 833-2933, or go to www.publiclandsday.org.
TDEC’s State Natural Areas Division, along with several Tennessee State Parks, will sponsor a number of volunteer stewardship projects and outdoor events across the state in recognition of Public Lands Day. This year’s theme is Helping Hands for America’s Lands and the continued protection of these treasured places that belong to all Americans. Public Lands Day activities planned in Tennessee on Saturday, Sept. 29, are included below. (Note that hours listed indicate the local time for events.)
“There are events across Tennessee ranging from cleanups to trail maintenance to removing invasive species,” said Deputy Commissioner Brock Hill. “We appreciate all of the volunteers who will be spending their time helping to preserve our public lands for all who enjoy them.”
In Middle Tennessee:
Radnor Lake State Park and Natural Area – Join park staff from 8 a.m. until noon to complete the new interpretive trail to the historic Valve House. In preparation of two new bridges opening in the park, trails also will be rerouted to accommodate these additions. For more information and to RSVP, contact Sam King at (615) 377-1281 or email@example.com. Coffee and refreshments will be provided by the Friends of Radnor Lake beginning at 8 a.m. at the Visitor Center, followed by an opening ceremony on the Valve-House Trail at 9 a.m. An interpretive hike will be led by MTSU’s Dr. Doug Heffington. Radnor Lake State Park's ranger staff will lead an additional hike beginning at 10:15 a.m. on the Lake Trail to dedicate the park’s new bridges. Lunch will be provided at the Visitor Center by Friends of Radnor Lake. For more information about the park, please visit www.tnstateparks.com/RadnorLake/.
Stillhouse Hollow Falls State Natural Area – Join Allan J. Trently at 10 a.m. to put in erosion control timbers along the Stillhouse Hollow Falls trail. Stillhouse Hollow Falls is a 90-acre state natural area in Maury County. The natural area is named for its most significant feature, which can be seen by walking approximately 2/3 of a mile along the trail. A portion of the trail runs along a steep hillside. Volunteers should meet at the parking lot of the natural area just off U.S. Route 43. A pair of gloves and sturdy footwear is recommended. Volunteers should bring food and water. Reservations are required by Sept. 27 by contacting Allan Trently at (731) 512-1369 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For information on Stillhouse Hollow Falls State Natural Area, including a map of the location, visit the website at www.tn.gov/environment/na/natareas/stillhouse.
Virgin Falls State Natural Area – Join the State Natural Areas staff for a day of hiking and packing out trash at Virgin Falls, beginning at 9 a.m. The walk to beautiful Virgin Falls is four miles and the trail is narrow and steep in places, passing two smaller waterfalls along the way. Volunteers and staff will pick up trash on the four-mile hike back out, so plan for a hike of eight strenuous miles. Wear sturdy shoes and bring food and plenty of water. Minor trail maintenance will be performed along the way to maintain the natural area. Reservations are not required. For more information contact Robin Wooten at (615) 532-4799 or at email@example.com. Information about Virgin Falls can be found at www.tn.gov/environment/na/natareas/virgin/.
Walls of Jericho State Natural Area – Join staff and enjoy a journey through the early fall beauty with a strenuous eight-mile hike, descending 600 feet in the “walls” and continuing along the creek to an amazing canyon of sheer rock bluffs, caves and waterfalls. The hike is strenuous and participants should be in good physical health. Dress appropriately for the weather, wear sturdy boots and bring food and plenty of water. The trip will be cancelled in the event of inclement weather.
Reservations are required by Sept. 28 by contacting Forrest Evans at (615) 532-0431 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The first six reservations can utilize transportation provided by the Tennessee Natural Areas Program. Participants should meet at the Nashville Target parking lot, located off Bell Road near the Hickory Hollow Mall at 7:30 a.m. For more information, including directions, visit www.tn.gov/environment/na/natareas/jericho.
In East Tennessee:
Davy Crockett Birthplace State Park – Join park staff and community members to observe this important day. Volunteers should meet at the campground pavilion at 11 a.m. for instructions on cleanup efforts. For more information, contact Dawn Coleman at email@example.com.
Hampton Creek Cove State Natural Area – Join Chris Coxen at 10 a.m. for a loop hike from Hampton Creek Cove State Natural Area through the Cherokee National Forest to the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, returning via the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail. Volunteers should bring food, water, high energy snacks, sturdy hiking footwear (no sandals or open-toed shoes), a hat, jacket, rain gear and sunscreen. Long pants are also advised.
The hike will originate at the natural area parking lot and traverse fields and actively grazed pastures, following the Birchfield Trail along the Left Prong of Hampton Creek through a northern hardwood forest community where yellow birch, striped maple, northern red oak and tulip poplar are dominant species. From the upper reaches of the Birchfield Trail, the hike will follow an old woods road until it reaches the Appalachian Trail, where it will turn west to Yellow Mountain Gap. At this junction, the hike route will turn north onto the Overmountain Victory Trail, commemorating the historic route of the Overmountain Men in their march to the Revolutionary War’s 1780 Battle of King’s Mountain, then returning to the parking lot. The hike is seven miles round trip and includes an elevation gain of 2,100 feet. Reservations are required by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, contact Chris Coxen at (910) 315-5549 or visit www.tn.gov/environment/na/natareas/hampton/.
Ozone Falls State Natural Area – Join staff for a perfect way to enjoy an autumn morning and the picturesque beauty of this natural area by helping to maintain trails, removing invasive plants and picking up trash from 9 a.m. until noon. Equipment will be provided. Volunteers should bring food and water and wear sturdy shoes. For more information, contact Monica Johnson at email@example.com. For directions, please visit www.tn.gov/environment/na/natareas/ozone/.
For more information, including descriptions, maps and directions, for these or any of Tennessee’s 82 designated state natural areas, visit the website at www.tn.gov/environment/na/events/#npld29. For more information about Tennessee State Parks, please visit www.tnstateparks.com.