TDEC announces recreation grant for Virgin Falls

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(June 9, 2021) - The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation  has announced a $500,000 grant for land acquisition for the Virgin Falls State Natural Area.

The grant is part of $7,584,530 awarded to communities throughout the state from the Local Parks and Recreation Fund (LPRF) program and the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) program. The state is also awarding $1,892,642 in grants from the Recreation Trails Program (RTP).

“We are happy to announce grants that will enhance the outdoor experience in communities across our state,” Jim Bryson, deputy commissioner of TDEC, said. “We want Tennesseans to enjoy recreational activity, and that includes meeting the needs of entities such as parks, natural areas and resource management.”

“I am very pleased this grant has been awarded for the Virgin Falls State Natural Area, which is truly a Tennessee treasure,” Sen. Paul Bailey, R-Sparta, said. “Our state parks, trails, and natural areas offer world-class outdoor recreational opportunities that support tourism and grow our local economy. Most of all, it gives people more opportunities to just be closer to nature.”

“Our community boasts many recreational opportunities and beautiful natural areas for our citizens to use and enjoy,” Rep. Paul Sherrell, R-Sparta, said. “This grant will go a long way in adding value to the Virgin Falls State Natural Area. I am excited to see the many ways this land acquisition will benefit our community, and I appreciate the work of those involved with securing this grant.”

The project is for the acquisition of land to adjoin the Dog Cove area of the state natural area. The money will be added to State Lands Acquisition Funds to purchase the 1,468 acres at a cost of approximately $1,830,000. The land will increase the protection of existing natural and cultural resources and allow greater outdoor recreation in the area.

The LPRF program provides state funding for the purchase of land for parks, natural areas, greenways, and recreational facilities. LPRF funds also may be used for trail development and capital projects in parks, natural areas, and greenways. The LWCF program provides grants to states to administer to state and local governments for the acquisition and development of public outdoor recreation areas and facilities. The grants require a 50-percent match.

The RTP is a federally funded, state administered grant program, providing funds for land acquisition for trails, trail maintenance, trail construction, trail rehabilitation, and trail head support facilities. These grants are distributed in the form of an 80-percent grant with a 20-percent match.

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