Lee proclaims March 31 Mack S. Prichard Day honoring first state naturalist

NASHVILLE – Gov. Bill Lee has designated March 31 as Mack S. Prichard Day, honoring Tennessee’s first state naturalist and state archeologist.

Prichard, who died last year at 81, built a career of state service beginning at age 16. He worked to conserve Tennessee’s landscape and was instrumental in the acquisition of more than 40 sites for Tennessee State Parks, natural areas and archeological areas.

“Mack Prichard was a Tennessee treasure, and we are pleased to proclaim this day in his honor,” Lee said. “Mack recognized the wonder of the nature we have in Tennessee and was a champion for its preservation and promotion.”

“We are indebted to Mack Prichard for his lifelong contributions to Tennessee State Parks – contributions that helped make Tennessee’s state parks system the best in the nation,”

David Salyers, commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC), said. “He was an inspiration to us at TDEC, to people throughout Tennessee and beyond.”     

A native of Memphis, Prichard was known for presenting slideshows throughout the state for audiences such as state parks friends’ groups, school groups and camps. He enjoyed leading hikes to Tennessee waterfalls and informing outdoors enthusiasts about wildlife and native plants. Prichard’s writings, presentations and thousands of photographs can be found at www.mackprichard.com, a site curated by Friends of South Cumberland State Park. The Mack S. Prichard Foundation was established in 2019 with the mission of protecting and conserving the environment. It provides scholarships for students in environmental science.

Current State Naturalist Randy Hedgepath will lead a walk to remember Prichard on March 31 at Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park. Events for Mack Prichard Day at other state parks can be found at this link.

TDEC last year opened a $2.4 million visitors center named for Prichard at Cummins Falls State Park near Cookeville.

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