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Four UC State Parks Earn Highest Rank For Sustainability

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
Four UC State Parks Earn Highest Rank For Sustainability

Four Upper Cumberland State Parks have received the highest honor from TDEC for their efforts in environmental sustainability.

Burgess Falls, Cummins Falls, Rock Island and Standing Stone all received platinum status in the, “Go Green With Us,” program. Regional Director of External Affairs Tara Wohlgemuth said only 10 out of the 56 state parks earned the highest ranking.

“The four that were highlighted as a part of the, “Go Green With Us,” program they are just really committed to sustainability, to implementing water conservation, energy conservation,” Wohlgemuth said. “But also, getting really creative when it comes to education and habitat restoration.”

Wohlgemuth said parks are judged by a point system for environmental improvements made over the year. Wohlgemuth said parks do things such as installing water bottle filling stations to get staff and visitors to better utilize natural and financial resources.

“We started out in 2015 as a recycling initiative with Tennessee State Parks,” Wohlgemuth said. “And we decided in 2017 I think it was to scale up the program and think about sustainability in our parks when it comes to education and outreach, energy efficiencies, habitat and research protection.”

The status levels in the program include platinum, gold, silver, and bronze. Wohlgemuth said each year brings a new internal rivalry, and state park staff are driven to be the best.

“Our state parks are competitive with each other, so a lot of it is just bragging rights,” Wohlgemuth said. “They get to loud this over their other parks in the area that did not quite achieve that level, but they do get a certificate.”

Wohlgemuth said if she had to choose a project that stood out to her, Cummins Falls’ initiative to aid bees is the favorite. Twenty-two gold level parks were awarded and 15 parks improved their levels of performance over the previous year.


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