PRESS RELEASE from Wildwood Resort & Marina, Granville, Tennessee:

River Bank Cleanup and Open House:
Saturday, February 23rd, 2019, 11am – 3pm
7316 Granville Highway
Granville, Tennessee
www.visitwildwood.com

See what’s cooking at Wildwood over the winter! Hot food and drink for volunteers
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Back by popular demand, Wildwood Resort and Marina’s mid-winter Adopt-a-Stream River Bank Clean-up and Open House is scheduled for February, 23rd, 2019.

The Adopt-a-Stream program is sponsored by the Cumberland River Compact in Middle Tennessee. Members of the program care for regional rivers and streams by organizing trash pick-ups, river access projects, and educational events. Wildwood Resort and Marina has adopted a 1-mile stretch of the Cumberland River between Indian Creek and Martin’s Creek on Cumberland River at Cordell Hull Lake. Detailed information on the Adopt-a-Stream program Middle Tennessee, the health of our local rivers and streams, and how you can get involved can be found at the regional CRC Adopt-a-Stream website (http://cumberlandriverbasin.org/).

First Annual Wildwood Resort & Marina Adopt-a-Stream River Shore Cleanup and Community Open House

Wildwood’s first annual Adopt-a-Stream shore cleanup and open house was held in February, 2018. Despite a very gloomy forecast that weekend, sixty hearty souls showed up to fan out over the adopted stretch of river, armed with heavy duty trash bags and work gloves, to remove the trash. Volunteers picked up over 100 bags of garbage along the shoreline that day.

GARBAGE GONE!

Following the cleanup, volunteers celebrated what turned out to be a balmy, partly sunny day with homemade chili and drinks on the porch at Timberloft Lakeside before hearing a talk on the quality of river life on this stretch of the Cumberland as well as information on Wildwood’s developing plans for the upcoming recreational season.

The response of the community was so remarkable the Adopt-a-Stream program has awarded a blue ribbon prize to the Wildwood Community for attracting the most volunteers across all of Middle Tennessee, including Nashville, in all of 2018. CRC’s annual awards celebration is scheduled on Wednesday February 27th, 2019 at its headquarters in the Bridge Building downtown Nashville, below the Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge. For more information, contact natasha@wildwoodresorttn.com.

MANY THANKS to those who joined in the effort to keep our shores free from garbage. The organizers hope that you will join in again this year and bring your friends for another great effort!

PRESS RELEASE from the State of Tennessee, January 23, 2019:

LINK: https://www.tn.gov/environment/news/2019/1/23/beecher-wallace-homestead-added-to-state-park-system.html

The Beecher Wallace Homestead in the Dog Cove area near Fall Creek Falls State Park has been added to Tennessee’s public lands, announced today by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) and The Land Trust for Tennessee.

The historic homestead, which lies approximately 20 miles north of Fall Creek Falls State Park, will be managed by park staff and open to the public.

The 4.8-acre homestead will serve as a connection point for visitors to the Cumberland Plateau, which features nearby recreational areas including Lost Creek and Virgin Falls State Natural Areas.

“This will be a valuable addition that has natural and historical value,” said Brock Hill, deputy commissioner for the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. “We’re glad to have yet another aspect of this area for our visitors to enjoy.”

The homestead addition is located on the southern end of Dog Cove and features a barn, sheds and a farmhouse originally constructed in the late 1800s. Tennessee State Parks will protect the integrity of the home to help interpret the area’s history to visitors.

“Here you’ll find caves, sinks, seeps, creeks and bluffs that all provide tremendous scenic and biological diversity,” said Tennessee State Parks’ Stuart Carroll, a park manager who oversees Lost Creek and Virgin Falls State Natural Areas in addition to Dog Cove. “This homestead will also give visitors a glimpse into the pioneer life of the late 1800s.”

The property adjoins 750 acres acquired by the state in recent years with the assistance of The Land Trust, Open Space Institute and Tennessee Parks and Greenways Foundation.

“Dog Cove is a magical place,” said Liz McLaurin, president and CEO of The Land Trust. “The conservation of this swath of land is an example of the way, over time, land trusts and partners can build relationships that stitch together special places for the enjoyment of Tennesseans and visitors now and forever.”

Dog Cove is a day-use area with eight miles of trails known for its creeks. A large portion of Dog Cove was privately owned by descendants of the Wallace family for more than 100 years. Members of the family worked with the state and The Land Trust to make the land accessible to the public and bring it under state protection.

“This place has meant a lot to my family for generations,” said former landowner Tom Lee. “We are grateful to know others will have the opportunity to enjoy it and that it will always be cared for.”

This conservation success is now part of a network of protected lands across the Plateau, including Fall Creek Falls State Park, Lost Creek State Natural Area, Virgin Falls State Natural Area, Bledsoe State Forest, and Bridgestone-Firestone Centennial Wilderness Wildlife Management Area. Adjoining those are the Bridgestone Nature Reserve at Chestnut Mountain and Latimer High Adventure Reservation. All together this corridor accounts for roughly 60,000 contiguous acres of significant protected forested habitat.

Press Release from the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission, January 18, 2019:

Link: https://www.tn.gov/twra/news/2019/1/18/cwd-update-given-at-first-tfwc-2019-meeting.html

MEMPHIS — An update on the status of chronic wasting disease (CWD) was presented during the first meeting of 2019 which concluded Friday at the Duck Unlimited national headquarters.

Chuck Yoest, CWD coordinator for the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, made a presentation on the agency’s chronic wasting disease response. Yoest informed the commission the agency has sampled more than 4,800 deer this season in Tennessee. Also, he shared that 62 samples from Hardeman and Fayette counties have been confirmed CWD positive.

The agency anticipates more positive CWD results from these areas since it is placing a heavy emphasis on sampling there according to its response plan. Yoest also said that public meeting held in Bolivar earlier in January in regard to CWD, had an attendance of about 400.

Jamie Feddersen, TWRA migratory gamebird program leader, gave a preview of the 2019-20 season. Changes in the federal framework require the TWRA to update its proclamation each year. The changes presented at the meeting were based mainly on hunter input.

Anticipated federal rules will now allow states to have Jan. 31 as the last day of duck season. Previously federal rules prevented states from having duck season any later than the last Sunday in January. Hunter input indicates the desire to end the duck season Jan. 31. The agency recommends the Reelfoot Foot Zone phase 1 season be Nov. 16-19 and the statewide phase 1 season Nov. 29-Dec. 2. The Reelfoot and statewide zone phase 2 season would be Dec. 7-Jan. 31.

For woodcock season, there was support to provide more hunting days in January so the agency is proposing a split season. For crow, there was support for more hunting days in cooler weather, The agency is also proposing a split season for crow.

There was a presentation from Ducks Unlimited representative DU’s Dave Kostersky. On his annual visit from DU Canada, he reported that there was another dry fall and again officials were hoping for a wet spring in the habitat corridor. He annually makes the visit to provide an update on the partnership and conditions in Canada.

Frank Fiss, TWRA Fisheries Division chief, presented an overview of the fish dealer license to address TFWC questions about license requirements. A fish dealer license is required for bait dealers, fish farmers and operators of pay lakes. In Tennessee, anglers who fish at a licensed pay lake are not required to have a fishing license. This exemption is common among most surrounding states.

Dale Hall, Ducks Unlimited chief executive officer, was honored by the TFWC with a resolution. He has been DU’s top official since 2010 and previously served the U.S. Fish and Wildlife for 31 years, the four as its director.

The commission will consider four rulemaking changes. The TWRA is establishing rules regarding public record requests and will consider changes to the fees associated with motorized boat registrations.

The commission’s established a permanent Tennessee’s Native Son license. When initially created, the Native Son license had an expiration date of Feb. 28, 2019. The change allows the TWRA to continue selling the Native Son license into the future.

The commission passed an amended rule in regard to permit and access fees for non-motorized vessels the rule creates a permit for outfitters that establishes minimum operating standards and associated fees.

PRESS RELEASE from the Tennessee Department Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, January 15, 2019:

Facility part of $200 million investment in state parks under Gov. Bill Haslam

SPENCER – Tennessee State Parks and elected officials today broke ground for a new inn, restaurant and conference center at Fall Creek Falls State Park, part of a broader $200 million investment in state parks over the last eight years by Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration and the Tennessee General Assembly.

The facility at Fall Creek Falls is part of over $175 million in capital projects appropriated for state parks since 2011.

“This reinvestment in Tennessee’s most famous state park is indicative of similar reinvestments made from Memphis to Kingsport,” said Brock Hill, deputy commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. “Over $175 million in capital reinvestment is already paying back dividends through increased visitation, customer satisfaction, and revenue growth.”

Tennessee’s state parks received more than 38 million visits in 2018, the highest recorded visitation ever. Tennessee State Parks have strategically, and selectively, added nearly 40,000 acres to state park and natural area holdings under the Haslam administration. The additions in the last eight years include three unique state parks – Cummins Falls State Park in Jackson County; Lamar Alexander Rocky Fork State Park in Unicoi County; and Seven Islands State Birding Park in Knox County, bringing the current total of state parks to 56.

The state now manages or oversees more than 225,000 acres in Tennessee, one of the largest state park public land portfolios in the eastern United States.

Investments in the last eight years enhance rural economic development and have addressed a maintenance backlog and brought much-needed updates to the state’s hospitality assets – inns, conference centers, restaurants, marinas, campgrounds and cabins. Capital investments since 2011, with some projects funded but not yet completed, include:

  • New visitor centers at Fall Creek Falls, Bledsoe Creek, Cummins Falls, Lamar Alexander Rocky Fork and Henry Horton state parks
  • New group camp at Booker T. Washington State Park and group camp renovation at Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park
  • Cabin renovations at Cumberland Mountain, Chickasaw, Standing Stone and Norris Dam state parks
  • Conversion of bathhouse at Cumberland Mountain State Park to an interpretive center
  • New pedestrian bridges at Cumberland Mountain State Park, Chickasaw State Park and Seven Islands State Birding Park.
  • New cabins at Reelfoot Lake and Pickwick Landing state parks
  • Inn renovations at Montgomery Bell, Pickwick Landing and Natchez Trace state parks
  • New inn at Paris Landing State Park
  • 13 campground renovations
  • ADA upgrades at four parks

Fall Creek Falls State Park has seen the renovation of 20 cabins and the refurbishment of an additional 10; renovation of Village Green buildings; installation of a new irrigation system at the golf course; renovation of the swimming pool and snack bar area; new playground area; roof replacements; restroom upgrades; and fresh paint.

At Fall Creek Falls, the new inn and restaurant are forecast to generate $278,000 per year in sales and occupancy taxes, a growth of $90,000 per year compared to revenue from the previous facility. Short-term, construction is expected to bring in an estimated $14.7 million in taxable spending to the area, along with more than 100 construction jobs.

The 98,000 sq. ft. facility is designed to reflect the natural setting of the park and will include three floors of visitor space with double rooms, king rooms and suites at the inn; indoor and outdoor gathering areas with larger meeting rooms for conferences; and paths connecting the facility to recreational trails at the park. The restaurant faces Fall Creek Lake, providing scenic views for diners.

The facilities at Fall Creek Falls are part of a robust number of state parks in the Upper Cumberland region, including Burgess Falls State Park; Cumberland Mountain State Park; Justin P. Wilson Cumberland Trail State Scenic Trail State Park; Rock Island State Park; Sgt. Alvin C. York State Park; Standing Stone State Park; Cummins Falls State Park; Cordell Hull Birthplace State Park; Edgar Evins State Park; and Pickett CCC Memorial State Park.

Crews are beginning to embark upon construction of the new lodge and restaurant at Tennessee’s most popular state park.

Regional politicians and state government officials gathered this week at Fall Creek Falls for a ground-breaking ceremony at the lake construction zone at Fall Creek Falls. The planned new 98,000-square-foot will be built to “to reflect the natural setting of the park,” according to a news release from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, which oversees state parks.

Breaking ground at Fall Creek Falls State Park are, from left, are Erik Pyle of Bell Construction; Bledsoe County Mayor Gregg Ridley; Lt. Gov. Randy McNally; Rep. Cameron Sexton; TDEC Deputy Commissioner Brock Hill; Deputy Gov. Jim Henry; Ann McGuaran, state architect; Rep. Kelly Keisling; Rep. Ron Travis; General Services Deputy Commissioner John Hull; Ron Lustig of Earl Swensson Associates; and Park Manager Jacob Young of Fall Creek Falls State Park.

The new hotel and lake-facing restaurant will include “three floors of visitor space,” along with “indoor and outdoor gathering areas with larger meeting rooms for conferences.”

The projects designers have said the inn will “provide spacious views of the lake and of the park’s natural forest that will evoke long-lasting memories for visitors.”

Walking trails around the lodge will connect up with other trails that wind off into the remote reaches of the park.

“At Fall Creek Falls, the new inn and restaurant are forecast to generate $278,000 per year in sales and occupancy taxes, a growth of $90,000 per year compared to revenue from the previous facility,” according to the TDEC press release. “Short-term, construction is expected to bring in an estimated $14.7 million in taxable spending to the area, along with more than 100 construction jobs.”

Construction is anticipated finish up in 2020.

The Fall Creek Falls project, which also includes other upgrades to existing park facilities and infrastructure,  is part of more than $175 million in capital projects appropriated for state parks since Republican Gov. Bill Haslam took office, the TDEC release noted. Haslam is finishing up his second and final term as Tennessee’s highest elected official.

“This reinvestment in Tennessee’s most famous state park is indicative of similar reinvestments made from Memphis to Kingsport,” said Brock Hill, deputy commissioner TDEC. “Over $175 million in capital reinvestment is already paying back dividends through increased visitation, customer satisfaction, and revenue growth.”

Bygone days and ways live in memories alone

Standing atop Center Hill Dam or Hurricane Bridge today, it’s easy to forget that homestead activity and rural enterprise once flourished along the hillsides and throughout river bottom lands now submerged under the lake’s expansive waterline.

But across Tennessee during the great federal dam-building decades of the 20th Century, old manners and modes of living were drowned out and washed away as reservoir waters rose behind hydroelectric impoundments that still serve as monuments to modern engineering and industrial technology.

Prior to the dam’s construction, which was completed in 1948, much of the area around the Caney Fork “was subject to intensive family-type farming of money crops, such as corn and tobacco, which involved hillside plowing with mules,” notes the Army Corps of Engineers’ Center Hill Lake Master Plan. However, since the dam’s completion, “farming in the Center Hill Lake area has steadily declined.”

Center Hill Dam under construction on the Caney Fork River in DeKalb County, 1949. (Tennessee State Library Photo Archive)

Local historians and aging residents who lived through the events recall that it was a time of gloom and upheaval for many.

“By the end of 1948, all of the homes and farms were cleared out, torn down and covered with water,” wrote the authors of “Under the Lake,” a 2016 coffee table book of historic images, remembrances and genealogy from the region prior to creation of Center Hill reservoir. “People who had lived there in their lifetime would never be able to see their homes again.”

DeKalb County historian Thomas G. Webb, who wrote a book about local history for the Memphis State University Press that was published in 1986, recalled that by the end of World War II “most of (the inhabitants) had accepted the idea that they had to leave their farms, homes, schools and churches.”

“A few, however, were bitterly opposed to moving and remained in their homes until the dam was completed and the water was literally in their front yards. Some in the Center Hill area relocated in DeKalb County, but many moved to other counties, and the county lost 4,000 people between 1940 and 1950,” Webb reported.

Rosemary Ponte of Cookeville, whose family owned property where today sits the Appalachian Center for Craft, said it pains her even now to recall that “very sad time” when families in DeKalb County were forced off their homelands.

“I still feel bad about it,” said Ponte, who was born in 1931. “They took so much more land than they needed. I just hated to see the people so displaced like that, after generations and generations of their families living there.”

Recreation an Unanticipated Boon

It may seem surprising now, with Center Hill Lake a prominent recreation destination in Middle Tennessee, but leisure and sporting activities weren’t considered important to the dam-project planners.

The Center Hill Lake Master Plan even notes that “recreation was not originally an authorized function of the project” — although surrounding lands were later acquired from property owners and “recreation facilities constructed to assure unencumbered access to the lake for the general public.”

In the beginning, though, they scoffed at the idea of recreation.

“The first few years that Center Hill Lake was backed up after the lake was there, they didn’t even want to talk about recreation,” said Carl Halfacre of Baxter, whose father worked on construction of the dam. “‘If you mentioned recreation to the Corps of Engineers, they would insult you.” They would say, “That dam is for flood control and hydroelectric power — we don’t furnish recreation.’ The Corps didn’t feel it was their job to spend millions of dollars so people could have a good time.”

Nevertheless, by the middle of the 1950s, people did indeed start showing up to fish and boat and swim on Center Hill Lake, said Halfacre, who in 2014 retired from serving as managing ranger at Edgar Evins State Park for nearly two decades. At about that time, picnic areas and campgrounds started popping up, he said.

Webb noted that some who lived in the area in fact began anticipating recreational benefits even before the dam was finished.

“Those who hoped to benefit from the increased tourist trade looked forward to the completion of the dam,” he wrote.

So if you’re one of the more than three million people who annually takes advantage or accesses Center Hill Lake’s vast recreation opportunities, you might do well to spend a moment and reflect on the reality that many people gave up homes and lifeways for the lake to exist — and many would for the rest of their years suffer broken-heartedness and resentment as a result.

“There used to be a lot more life down below the water’s surface — and it was more than just fish,” said Ria Baker, one of the authors of “Under the Lake.”

PRESS RELEASE the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation:

NASHVILLE – Tennessee State Parks are offering discounts of 25 percent off cabin and room rental rates between December 1 and February 28.

“We are entering a special time of the year to be with loved ones, and we hope these discounts will help everyone enjoy our state parks,” said Brock Hill, deputy commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. “Our state parks have a lot to offer visitors year-round, and these discounts can help make for a great winter getaway.”

The discounts create a perfect opportunity, for example, to stay lakeside at Pickwick Landing, see eagles at Reelfoot Lake or enjoy a warm fire on a snowy evening at Roan Mountain.

The special winter rates apply to hundreds of cabins and inn rooms throughout the state.

In order to obtain the discounts, visitors are asked to complete a sign-up form online to let the state parks know they’re interested in the winter promotion. After sign-up, an email response will give details on how to secure the discount.

Visitors can sign up for the winter discount at this link: https://tnstateparks.com/about/promotion-details/winter-promotion

Information provided when submitting the form will be used only for official Tennessee State Parks communications. Tennessee State Parks do not sell or distribute personal information from the emails.

All Tennessee State Parks are open for recreational activities during the winter.

PRESS RELEASE FROM THE STATE OF TENNESSEE, NOVEMBER 8, 2018:

NASHVILLE – Tennessee State Parks will offer free, guided hikes at all 56 state parks the day after Thanksgiving, Nov. 23.

“Tennessee’s state parks are once again offering the opportunity to get outdoors the day after Thanksgiving to engage in healthy, fun activities,” said Brock Hill, deputy commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. “It’s a chance to explore the state parks with loved ones around the holidays, with skilled rangers leading the way.”

Hikes for all ages and abilities will be hosted at state parks from Memphis to Johnson City, including easy, peaceful strolls and rugged excursions. Each hike will be led by an experienced ranger, trained in interpreting the ecological, cultural and historical significance of Tennessee’s state parks.

Tennessee State Parks will feature the best that Tennessee lands have to offer, from hikes along historical and interpretive trails to stunning views of waterfalls, peaks and plateaus. Some hikes are designed for novice hikers at short distances, while others are lengthier and geared toward more experienced hikers.

All the hikes are listed at https://tnstateparks.com/about/special-events/after-thanksgiving-hikes/.

Visitors are encouraged to share photos of their hikes on social media with the hashtag #thankful4hiking.

Other statewide hikes Tennessee State Parks offers include First Day Hikes in January, Spring Hikes in March, National Trails Day in June, and National Public Lands Day in September.

Press Release from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, Sept. 4, 2018:

NASHVILLE – Hundreds of cyclists from nearly 30 different states will converge on the Cumberland Plateau on Sept. 15-20 for Tennessee State Parks’ annual Bicycle Ride Across Tennessee (BRAT).

The 29th annual ride will wind riders through some of Tennessee’s most scenic and charming communities, including Pikeville, Spencer, McMinnville, Winchester and Lynchburg. Each day will feature loop rides returning to overnight at Fall Creek Falls and Tims Ford State Parks. Riders will pass key attractions along the way including Rock Island State Park, Cumberland Caverns and Jack Daniel’s Distillery.

Bicycle Ride Across Tennessee, or BRAT, is an annual road cycling tour of TN state parks.

“Every year we introduce riders to different state parks and different communities in Tennessee so they can experience how special these places are,” said Brock Hill, deputy commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. “For nearly thirty years we have hosted cyclists and their families among the beauty of Tennessee State Parks and this year’s ride won’t disappoint.”

The ride is non-competitive and suitable for a range of skill levels. Riders can register for a one, two, three or six-day ride through Sept. 9. Registration begins at $85 for a one-day trip and $510 for the full 380-mile trip. The fee includes a fully supported route, camping at two state park basecamps, hot showers, meals (breakfast and supper), live entertainment and interpretive programming as well as an event t-shirt. Cabin and RV campground lodging is also available for an additional fee.

The BRAT is sponsored by Tennessee State Parks and benefits the Tennessee Park Rangers Association, the Cumberland Trail State Scenic Trail, Fall Creek Falls State Park and Tims Ford State Park.

More information on the ride, including a map of the route and registration instructions, can be found at www.thebrat.org.

PRESS RELEASE FROM THE UPPER CUMBERLAND TOURISM ASSOCIATION, AUGUST 28, 2018:

Level of visitor spending in Upper Cumberland climbs to all-time high

Nashville – Gov. Bill Haslam and Department of Tourist Development Commissioner Kevin Triplett announced today Tennessee tourism’s direct domestic and international travel expenditures reached a new all-time record high of $20.7 billion in 2017, up 6.3 percent over the previous year, as reported by the U.S. Travel Association. The announcement was made at the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum.

For the 12th consecutive year, tourism topped $1 billion in state and local sales tax revenue, reaching $1.8 billion. That marks a 7.6 percent increase over 2016, higher than the national growth of travel related state tax revenues of 4.6 percent. Tourism also generated 184,300 jobs for Tennesseans, a 3.1 percent growth year over year.

The 2017 direct domestic and international travel expenditure for the Upper Cumberland region reached an all time high of $420.9 Mil. Overall the 14 counties in the Upper Cumberland saw a 6.3% increase in their tourism spending. Two of our counties see more than $100 Million – Putnam – $132.03 Mil and Cumberland – $121.54 Mil.

Chambers of Commerce in the smaller UC counties operate on very limited budgets and they cooperate with all the 14 counties and the Upper Cumberland Tourism Association on joint promotions.

“It is important to understand that travel & tourism creates jobs, drives economic growth and helps build better societies. The Upper Cumberland of Tennessee is a prime example of this, as our region and its natural beauty is expected to attract more tourists in the coming years” said Ruth Dyal, director of the Upper Cumberland Tourism Association. It will be vital for Upper Cumberland communities and private sectors to work together with the public to ensure that tourism growth is sustainable, inclusive and benefits everyone.”

Commissioner Kevin Triplett said. “The authenticity and Southern hospitality from our communities and partners gives visitors an unbeatable experience and inspires them to return. The numbers show Tennessee is a destination of choice for visitors around the world. However, we would not have these numbers if not for the capital investments, renovations and dedication made by tourism partners across the state to deliver great experiences that create wonderful memories.”

To view the full report, click here. For more information, contact Ruth Dyal, executive director for the Upper Cumberland Tourism Association at 931-537-6347 or by email at uctourism@gmail.com.