Environmental Protection

Proposed Site Announced for Tennessee's 55th State Park

During a special ceremony attended by state and local government officials, it was announced that the Rocky Fork area of Unicoi County will become Tennessee’s 55th state park.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander and Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation Commissioner Bob Martineau joined members of the General Assembly, local elected officials, and members of the community for a ceremony announcing the future conveyance of more than 2,000 acres in the Rocky Fork area of Unicoi County, which will eventually become Tennessee’s 55th state park.

The property is part of the 10,000-acre tract acquired by The Conservation Fund and U.S. Forest Service in 2008, and will be conveyed to the state of Tennessee in the coming months. The area is located along the Appalachian Trail corridor and the Tennessee-North Carolina border near Asheville and is adjacent to more than 22,000 acres of U.S. Forest Service-designated wilderness. Before Rocky Fork’s acquisition by The Conservation Fund and U.S. Forest Service, it was one of the largest unprotected tracts in the southern Appalachian Mountains.

The entire Rocky Fork wilderness area provides a wide range of world-class recreational opportunities, including hiking the popular Appalachian Trail, fishing more than 16 miles of blue-ribbon trout streams, and hunting bear, turkey, deer, and grouse. The area is also home to both state and federally endangered species, including the Peregrine falcon.

The 2,000 acres to be conveyed offer a low-impact, financially feasible proposal for a new state park, which would also serve as a catalyst for economic activity in Unicoi County and surrounding areas. Preliminary plans for this “park in progress” include an access road, ranger station, primitive campground, picnic areas and trails, in addition to interpretive efforts to share the historic Revolutionary War-era battles site.

For more information, visit Tennessee State Parks' website at www.tnstateparks.com.

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