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Public Science Meeting On UC Park Research Held

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
Public Science Meeting On UC Park Research Held

Scientists from local parks and national agencies came together Wednesday at the Historic Rugby Visitors Center to share their findings from a year’s worth of researching local parks.

Niki Nicholas is Superintendent of Big South Fork River and Obed Wild and Scenic River. Nicholas said this is the eighth year of the annual event. She said the all-day session allows local park rangers to hear about the makeup of their park from scientists. She said the public is invited to learn and ask questions.

“Both Obed and the Big South Fork are river parks,” Nicholas said. “So we have monitoring stations. How fast is the water flowing? The water quality, water quantity, that sort of thing. There’s weather stations in the park. We monitor various wildlife species.”

Nicholas said scientists from the TWRA, the National Parks Geologic Resources Division, and several Biodiversity Foundations presented what they learned about Upper Cumberland parks in 2023. She said the event gives the public a chance to become more in-tune with the biodiversity that exists in their own backyard.

“The parks are everybody’s parks,” Nicholas said. “And it’s important to make sure that we keep folks updated and hear what their concerns are and listen.”

She said an intensive science meeting that lasts an entire day is more than many people are willing to endure. She said park rangers and education staff absorb the information presented and lead shorter sessions of their own throughout the year to inform the rest of the public. She said it is important to monitor how things are changing and keep a pulse on whether the park environment has gotten better or worse in the past year.

“We have a research-permitting process where, if you want to do research in the park, you actually do have to get permission so that nobody does things that damage the parks,” Nicholas said. “But we have outside researchers coming in and, of course, our own staff doing work.”

She said scientists will discuss the state of the parks’ wildlife, aquatic ecology, archeology, botany, and more.


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