The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) recognized Roan Mountain State Park, located off TN Hwy. 143, as the 2016 Park of the Year for its demonstrated excellence in innovation, sustainability, interpretation, resource management and fiscal responsibility.
“All 56 Tennessee State Parks strive and succeed in achieving our mission to preserve and protect unique examples of natural, cultural and scenic areas,” said TDEC Deputy Commissioner of Parks and Conservation Brock Hill. “But Roan Mountain went above and beyond in 2016 thanks to the talent and skills of park staff and creative partnerships with local communities.”
In 2016, the park was designated an Appalachian Trail Community by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC). Roan Mountain is only the second community to receive this prestigious designation in the state, which highlights the park as a premier destination for hikers to access the Appalachian Trail. Over the course of the year, the park also strengthened its partnerships with the local community through the Carter County Tourism Committee, Chamber of Commerce and the Roan Mountain Citizens Club (RMCC) to enhance visitor experiences.
“Roan Mountain State Park is an iconic and enchanting park on Tennessee’s eastern border that offers experiences like no other for our visitors,” said Robin Peeler, East Tennessee parks area manager. “This recognition is not only a testament to the innovative ideas of park staff, but also the participation and energy the local community brings for this beautiful place.”
The park also expanded recycling operations, increased interpretive program offerings for youth, and constructed a Birds of Prey Aviary facility. Through grant funding from the Tennessee Historical Commission, the park successfully undertook the Miller Farmstead Preservation Project, which entailed repairs to structural deterioration on the 1907 house, which is a National Historic Site.
Roan Mountain State Park staff have worked diligently to combat the tragic effects on trees caused by invasive pests, namely the Hemlock Wooly Adelgid Beetle. They have managed to slow the beetle’s destruction through injection treatments to many of the park’s remaining hemlock trees.
The Annual Park Awards of Excellence – which honor five parks annually – were created to recognize exceptional work within Tennessee State Parks. The 2016 award winners were recognized at the Tennessee State Park annual park management conference on Jan. 17, 2017, at Montgomery Bell State Park. Parks are nominated by TDEC staff. Park Area Managers review the nominations and select finalists from each region, which are then voted on by Tennessee State Park leadership.
For more information about Roan Mountain State Park, visit http://tnstateparks.com/parks/about/roan-mountain.