Cummins Falls State Park honored for excellence in innovation

Cumberland Falls State Park is recognized for excellence in innovation as part of the 2020 Tennessee State Parks Awards of Excellence. From left are Mike Robertson, director of operations for Tennessee State Parks; Deputy Commissioner Jim Bryson of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation; Ray Cutcher, park manager; and Kenny Gragg, area manager.

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) has recognized Cummins Falls State Park for excellence in innovation as part of the 2020 Tennessee State Parks Awards of Excellence.

“The staff at Cummins Falls has faced challenges and has met them head-on,” TDEC Deputy Commissioner Jim Bryson said. “They have demonstrated a commitment to the best possible management and service to park visitors. The staff is very worthy of this recognition.” 

The park has adapted as situations have developed at the park, seeking to be proactive and meeting challenges that arise. The most recent adaptation is issuing gorge access permits to enable the staff to control the number of people and enhance the guest experience for those who take a route along the river onto the base of the Cummins Falls waterfall.

The park is an idyllic but rugged 282-acre day-use park nine miles north of Cookeville on the Blackburn Fork State Scenic River on the Eastern Highland Rim. Located in the Cordell Hull Watershed, the area has been a scenic spot and swimming hole for more than 100 years. Cummins Falls is Tennessee’s eighth largest waterfall in volume of water and is 75 feet high. 

The 2020 Tennessee State Parks Awards of Excellence were awarded on Sept. 29 at Montgomery Bell State Park as part of an in-person and virtual annual park management meeting. Managers had an option of attending in person with social distancing or participating virtually.

Other winners included Frozen Head State Park as Park of the Year; Norris Dam State Park for community engagement; Montgomery Bell State Park for facilities management; Booker T. Washington State Park for interpretation; Fall Creek Falls State Park for resource management; and Warriors’ Path State Park for sustainability. 

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