Tennessee State Parks Kick Off 2013 with First Hikes of the New Year

Wednesday, December 26, 2012 | 12:36 pm

NASHVILLE –Tennessee State Parks will sponsor free, guided hikes on New Year’s Day in commemoration of the park system’s 75th Anniversary. Each state park will host its own special hike in the first few days of the New Year.

“We are very excited to continue the celebration of Tennessee State Parks’ 75th Anniversary in 2013, beginning with this series of First Hikes,” said Environment and Conservation Commissioner Bob Martineau. “These First Hikes offer a great way to get outside, exercise, enjoy nature and welcome the New Year with friends and family.”

From Meeman-Shelby to Fall Creek Falls to Roan Mountain and every state park in between, the 2013 First Hikes are designed for all ages and abilities. Some hikes will be approximately one mile in length and tailored for novice hikers, while others are lengthier and geared toward more experienced hikers. For a more in-depth look into planned First Hikes in your area, please visit www.tn.gov/environment/parks/firsthikes/.

Tennessee State Parks’ First Hikes of 2013 are part of America’s State Parks First Day Hikes initiative in all 50 states. America’s State Parks First Day Hikes offer individuals and families an opportunity to begin the New Year rejuvenating and connecting with the outdoors by taking a healthy hike on January 1, 2013, at a state park close to home.

In addition to the First Hikes slated for early January, Tennessee State Parks will host a variety of special events in 2013 in celebration of the 75th Anniversary.

The Tennessee State Parks system was established through legislation in 1937, and those laws – with modifications and additions over the years – remain the framework for park operations today.  As in most states, Tennessee began in cooperation with federal programs that instigated individual parks. Later, Depression era recovery programs gave a boost to the idea and the possibility of creating parks. The Civilian Conservation Corps and Works Progress Administration worked on land conservation, but also delved further into the actual planning and construction of what would become the first of 54 Tennessee State Parks.

Today, there is a state park within an hour’s drive of just about anywhere in Tennessee.  A 2009 University of Tennessee study highlights the positive economic impacts that state parks provide local communities, particularly in rural areas of the state.  The study found that for every dollar spent on trips to Tennessee State Parks, an additional $1.11 of economic activity was generated throughout the state.  When the direct and indirect expenditures were combined, the impact of Tennessee State Parks to the state’s economy was $1.5 billion in total industry output, supporting more than 18,600 jobs.

“Our vision statement highlights the inherent value of our natural environment, along with the value of the many physical reminders of Tennessee’s past,” added Deputy Commissioner Brock Hill. “Tennessee’s state parks have played such an important role in our history, and they play a critical role in our health and quality of life, which will benefit Tennesseans well into the future.”

Tennessee’s state parks deliver a rich fabric of natural landscapes, wild places, preserved ecologies, outdoor recreational opportunities and protected historic scenes and resources – together representing the heritage of Tennessee in the landscape.

Tennessee's 54 state parks and 82 state natural areas offer diverse natural, recreational and cultural experiences for individuals, families or business and professional groups.  State park features range from pristine natural areas to 18-hole championship golf courses.  For a free brochure about Tennessee State Parks, call toll free at 1-888-867-2757. For upcoming events in connection with the 75th Anniversary of Tennessee State Parks, please visit the state parks website at www.tnstateparks.com.

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