- November 12, 2013, Coalition Supports Nomination of Neil Kornze as Director of BLM
- October 31, 2013, Coalition Applauds Secretary Jewell's Call for Conservation Action
- October 29, 2013, Coalition Statement on Proposal by Senator Coburn
- October 4, 2013, Coalition Statement on Government Shutdown
- August 1, 2013, Coalition Praises Senate Subcommittee for Proposal to Increase LWCF Conservation Funding
- July 23, 2013, House Subcommittee Axes Fund for Hunting, Fishing, Parks, and Battlefields to Feed Unrelated Spending
- April 10, 2013, President’s Budget Returns Oil and Gas Revenues to Land and Water Conservation, Boosting Tourism and Outdoor Recreation
- April 1, 2013, Local Elementary Students to Hand Deliver Thank You Notes for U.S. Senator’s Work to Protect Table Rocks, Oregon
- March 23, 2013, Senate Passes Budget that Returns Oil & Gas Revenues to Land and Water Conservation Fund
- March 13, 2013, LWCF Coalition Lauds Senate Budget for Commitment to Outdoor Economy, Ending Chronic Diversion of Conservation Funds
- March 7, 2013, LWCF Coalition Lauds Jewell for Commitment to Outdoor Economy
- February 14, 2013, Senators Introduce Bipartisian Bill to Renew and Improve Landmark Conservation Program
- February 6, 2013, LWCF Coalition Praises Nomination of Sally Jewell for Interior Secretary
- January 22, 2013, Statement from the Land and Water Conservation Fund Coalitionon the Retirement of U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar
- September 26, 2012, Coalition Praises Senate Subcommittee for Proposal to Increase LWCF Conservation Funding
- July 3, 2012, Americans Support Land Conservation as Patriotic, Even as Congress Moves to Cut Funding
- June 28, 2012, LWCF Coalition Decries Efforts to Strip Conservation Funding From Final Transportation Bill
- June 25, 2012, Over 1,000 Groups Urge Congress to Fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund
- June 20, 2012, LWCF Coalition Applauds Senate for Resounding Defeat of Proposal to Strip Forest Conservation Funding
- June 20, 2012, House Appropriations Panel Slashes Land Conservation and Forest Programs
- March 8, 2012 Coalition Applauds Senate for Dedicated Conservation Funding
- February 13, 2012 Coalition Applauds President's Continued Support for Conservation Funding
- December 17, 2011 Conservation, Business and Sportsmen Groups Applaud Congressional Efforts to Protect LWCF Funding in FY12 Budget
- July 25, 2011- New Bipartisan Poll Shows Overwhelming Support Across America for Land and Water Conservation Fund
- July 13, 2011- National Bipartisan Poll Memo
- May 31, 2011- Over One-Third of the U.S. House of Representatives Sign Letter Supporting Funding for LWCF
- April 14, 2011- Conrad Anchor Testimony Release
- December 20, 2010 - Senate Urged to Join House and Pass Bill with Full Funding for Conservation Program »
- August 3, 2010 - Senate Urged to Join House and Pass Bill with Full Funding for Conservation Program »
- July 15, 2010 - House Committee Passes Bill Securing Funding for Conservation and Recreation Program »
- April 16, 2010 - America's Great Outdoors Conference Focuses on Need for Vital Land, Recreation Funding »
- February 1, 2010 - Obama's Budget Includes Key Funding for Land & Water »
- November 6, 2009 - Senate Bill Would Fulfill Longstanding Promise for Conservation and Recreation Program »
- September 17 , 2009 - Coalition Supports Conservation at House Hearing »
Unicoi acquisition celebrated as state's newest park
Haslam: Many helped effort succeed
By Morgan Simmons
Wednesday, October 31, 2012
2012 marks the 75th anniversary of Tennessee state parks, and the year-long celebration is going out with a bang.
On Tuesday, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander joined members of the General Assembly and elected officials from Unicoi County to celebrate the future conveyance of more than 2,000 acres in the Rocky Fork tract as Tennessee's 55th state park.
Located approximately 30 miles from Johnson City in northeastern Tennessee, the 10,000-acre Rocky Fork tract has for years ranked at the top of the U.S. Forest Service's priorities for land acquisition. Thanks to a campaign led by The Conservation Fund, the U.S. Forest Service recently was able to purchase 8,000 acres of Rocky Fork to be managed as national forest, leaving 2,000 acres to eventually become Tennessee's newest state park.
Rocky Fork is surrounded by national forest and contains a section of the Appalachian Trail. Throughout much of its history the property was privately owned but leased for public hunting by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. The Conservation Fund became involved in 2007 after the property owners began marketing the land for ridgetop development.
The overall project cost approximately $40 million. Of that, $30 million came from the Land and Water Conservation Fund, a federal program that draws revenue from offshore drilling, while the state of Tennessee committed $6 million from the state's Heritage Conservation Trust Fund. An additional $4 million came from private contributors.
Haslam said it took a sustained and cooperative effort from private citizens, conservation organizations and government agencies to make Rocky Fork a reality.
"Ten thousand acres cost a lot of money," Haslam said. "Land is no longer cheap just because it's rural and undeveloped. The value of property like this has gone up, and it takes the loyal support of a lot of people to make these projects come together."
The 2,000 acres to be conveyed by The Conservation Fund would be developed as a low-impact, financially feasible state park that would help boost economic activity in Unicoi County, where over half the land base is in national forest and out of the county's tax base. Preliminarily, plans for the "park in progress" include an access road, ranger station, primitive campground, picnic area, and trails, state officials said.
Partners in the deal include TWRA, the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Unicoi and Greene counties, and the Upper East Tennessee Region.
Rocky Fork protects more than 16 miles of blue-ribbon trout streams and is a popular hunting area for black bear, turkey, deer and grouse. The area also is home to both state and federally endangered species, including the peregrine falcon.
"If you like the Smokies, you'll like Rocky Fork," Alexander said. "And like the Smokies, I believe it will have real economic value. Gov. Haslam's decision to create a new state park is an important step. It's one thing to acquire land; it's another to turn it into something people will love."