In November, for the first time in three years, Tennessee State Parks held a public meeting to discuss management of Rocky Fork State Park. State Park officials presented plans for a visitor center and an access road to a campground and a scenic overlook; these plans were presented in final form, only awaiting permits before construction would begin.
The general sentiment expressed from attendees at the meeting included serious concerns about environmental damage as a result of the implementation of these plans, and discontent about the plans not being influenced at all by public input. Evidence available seems to indicate that state parks staff are not very interested in the public’s opinion or input, but rather are simply satisfying a requirement to hold a public meeting and accept comments.
The comments are public information and are excerpted below to show what others think about the state’s plans, without identifying who provided each one. Roughly 60 comments vehemently oppose the plans presented with only two in favor.
Notably absent from the information provided by state parks were the comments submitted by a number of conservation organizations, all of whom opposed moving forward with the plans presented, including Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy, Tennessee Citizens for Wilderness Planning, The Sierra Club, The Wilderness Society, MountainTrue, and Wild South. A number of our friends’ comments were also missing (we add some here) but it is clear that the public is overwhelmingly opposed to the plans presented.
With this evidence that the public does not approve of the state’s plans, and the lack of public input to help shape those plans, we hope the new leaders will re-visit the issue before the heavy equipment moves in and changes Rocky Fork forever.
Send letters to the new Commissioner of TDEC, David Salyers, Commissioner, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation and the acting Deputy Commissioner of State Parks, Anne Marshall (both at 312 Rosa L. Parks Avenue, Nashville, TN 37243). Letters to political leaders would be helpful as well including Governor Bill Lee, Senator Lamar Alexander, Congressman Phil Roe, and State Representative Rusty Crowe.
You can learn more and stay up to date on Rocky Fork news at the Rocky Fork Journal.