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Press Release from the State of Tennessee, March 11, 2019:

Link: https://www.tn.gov/environment/news/2019/3/11/tennessee-state-parks-offers-free-guided-spring-hikes-statewide-march-23.html

With warmer weather coming, Tennessee State Parks is hosting free guided spring hikes in all 56 state parks led by park rangers on Saturday, March 23.

The hikes fit every level, from short easy-to-walk trails to longer treks through more adventurous terrain, each featuring the natural settings that are so diverse across the state.

“The spring hikes are a great way to explore our parks, as well as get to know other people who share the outdoors in a group setting,” said Anne Marshall, acting deputy commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. “Our state parks staff has valuable expertise to share about our parks to enhance the experience. There are hikes for just about every taste.”

The hikes are a chance to see early spring wildflowers, discuss wildlife specific to the park, take photos of magnificent scenery, and take in the features that make each state park unique.

Hikers are urged to prepare for the weather, have sturdy footwear, and bring water and snacks. Some may want to bring hiking sticks. Participants can go online to find a hike that best fits their interest at https://tnstateparks.com/about/special-events/spring-hikes/.

Shuttered lodge complex still scheduled for razing by end of year

The anticipated date for demolition to commence on the old inn at Fall Creek Falls State Park has been pushed back to at least the end of this month, according to state officials overseeing the project.

The plan had been for crews to start dismantling the 1970s-era hotel and conference complex by next week. But word now is that, because “contract negotiations took a little longer than expected,” the project won’t begin until the end of this month.

A spokesman for Tennessee’s Department of General Services said this week that work teams will likely begin removing the old hotel’s interior by the beginning of September, a process that should take about three weeks. When that’s complete, they’ll start tearing the buildings down.

“At present we expect it will take a little less than two months to tear down the structure, haul off materials, and secure the site,” Dave Roberson, director of communications for the department, wrote in an email to Center Hill Sun.

Roberson said the Brentwood-based company Bell and Associates Construction is handling the project.

The state’s plan is to build a new hotel and open it sometime in 2020.

The total cost of the project is expected to run close to $30 million. The old lodge ceased functioning in April.

Fall Creek Falls Park Manager Jacob Young said there’s been a noticeable falloff in visitation to the park since the inn and restaurant shut down, especially during weekdays. He said staff are expecting the typically busy autumn to fade into winter off-season faster than normal as a result as well.

Check back with Center Hill Sun for updates.