TDEC officials mark banner year of capital improvements in state parks

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) leaders today lauded a year of significant strides in capital projects at Tennessee State Parks in 2020 despite the COVID-19 pandemic, with even greater expectations for the parks in 2021.

“This has been an extraordinary year for our state parks,” TDEC Commissioner David Salyers said. “We have seen major projects come to fruition across the state this year, and we want to express our gratitude to the Tennessee General Assembly for making it happen. The new facilities will benefit Tennesseans for many years to come.”

Capital projects in state parks this year represented overall investments totaling approximately $184 million, reflecting foresight and planning by the last two administrations and the commitment of the state legislature to fund needed facilities and upgrades.

“From remodeled lodges to new visitors centers and restaurants, it has been a remarkable year of achievement for our parks,” Jim Bryson, deputy commissioner for Parks and Conservation, said. “Tennesseans showed their great desire for the experience of our parks, and our parks have shown their long-term commitment to providing modern facilities to meet demand. We opened several facilities this year, and we have even more milestones to celebrate in the year to come.”  

Tennessee State Parks this year opened facilities that included:

  • A 117-room lodge at Montgomery Bell State Park in Burns, a $12.1 million investment expected to support 189 jobs. The economic impact of the construction is $29.1 million.
  • An $11.7 million renovation of the lodge at Pickwick Landing State Park in Counce, expected to involve 183 jobs. The construction economic impact is $28.1 million. 
  • A $3 million visitors center at Fall Creek Falls State Park in Spencer, estimated to support 47 jobs. The economic impact of construction alone is $7.2 million.
  • A new $2.8 million visitors center at Cummins Falls State Park in Cookeville, expected to support 43 jobs. The construction economic impact is $6.7 million.

Additionally, TDEC announced construction of a two-story visitors center and new 6,381-square-foot restaurant at Henry Horton State Park in Chapel Hill, an investment of $8.25 million. This construction will support 129 jobs with an economic impact of $19.8 million.

In the coming year, Fall Creek Falls State Park will see the opening of a new $40.4 million, 85-room lodge, expected to support 634 jobs with an economic impact of $97.2 million. Construction is under way at Paris Landing State Park in Buchanan on a new $43.9 million lodge, expected to support 689 jobs with an economic impact of $105.6 million. Both facilities have been greatly anticipated.

Tennessee State Parks offer recreational opportunities for people across the state, with 56 unique parks. The parks offer hiking, fishing, boating, picnicking, biking and camping as well as interpretive programs. Eight of the parks feature golf courses.

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