The year 2012 marks Tennessee State Parks’ 75th Anniversary, and to help commemorate this important milestone, Red Clay State Park will hold a special community event on Thursday, June 14, beginning at 10 a.m. The event coincides with Red Clay’s own 33rd anniversary of the park’s dedication in 1979.
Special programs and orientation talks emphasizing the preservation of Tennessee’s culture and natural environment will be held throughout the day. A birthday cake celebration in honor of the 75th anniversary milestone also will be held. The event is open to the public.
Other highlights of the day’s events will include a Native Birds of Tennessee program, presented by Joel Blevins with the Avian Learning Center. Judy Baker will share Cherokee and Appalachian stories, along with Jamie Russell’s presentations on Cherokee culture, music, games and weapons. Spirit Mountain, a group of young Native American drummers, will be on hand to express their culture through music.
“We are very excited to celebrate Tennessee State Parks’ 75th Anniversary this year,” said Environment and Conservation Commissioner Bob Martineau. “Red Clay State Park offers a unique view into Tennessee’s rich history, and it is certainly a fitting backdrop for one of the many statewide celebrations we will be holding throughout the year. It’s also a great opportunity to thank the park’s many patrons and the entire local community for all their hard work and efforts in support of this outstanding state park.”
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.