Earlier in the week Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Environment and Conservation Commissioner Bob Martineau announced that April 7–13 will commemorate Tennessee State Natural Areas Week. The annual celebration will officially kick off on Saturday, April 6, with activities planned throughout the week such as wildflower hikes, canoe trips, guided tours and volunteer efforts.
The Tennessee Natural Areas Preservation Act was passed 42 years ago by the General Assembly and signed by former Gov. Winfield Dunn. Today, that legacy encompasses more than 120,000 acres of land, endangered or unique plants and a variety of animals – all protected for future generations.
“Tennessee State Natural Areas Week is a great time to revisit some of these special places that make our state so unique,” said Martineau. “Ongoing support of these beautiful areas is vital to the state’s conservation efforts and we encourage all Tennesseans to join us in celebration of what these rich and diverse areas have to offer.”
The State Natural Areas Program provides long-term protection for rare, threatened and endangered plant and animal life. The program also protects ecologically sensitive areas, areas of geological interest and areas of great scenic beauty. First established in 1971 by the Tennessee Natural Areas Preservation Act, there are now 82 state natural areas.
The week includes a full schedule of events in many of these 82 natural areas, with approximately 40 programs planned across the state. A wide variety of interesting activities – including a bat program, several guided wildflower hikes, canoe trips and a geology talk – are planned to engage Tennesseans in appreciating and enjoying these public areas.
For a complete schedule of events and trip details, please visit the Division of Natural Areas’ website, or call the main office at 615-532-0431. Some activities require reservations, so please call to ensure an opportunity to participate.
Hiking in the Smokies