Rocky Fork Go Green
Rocky Fork State Park has completed the Bronze Recognition Level of the TN State Parks Go Green With Us Initiative and Guidelines. The guidelines include multiple areas of environmental sustainability including education and outreach, water conservation, energy efficiency, waste and recycling and much more. Congrats to this park for going above and beyond to be excellent stewards of our natural resources!
The mission of the Tennessee State Parks Go Green With Us program is to preserve and protect our state parks through sustainable park operations, resource conservation, and recycling. Program components cover a diverse array of initiatives, including energy and water conservation through equipment and operations upgrades, recycling programs, projects to enhance ecosystem health, and erosion control, among many others.
- Rocky Fork State Park is Tennessee State Park’s newest park nestled in the Cherokee National Forest, and does not yet have any infrastructure. It has the second highest number of rare and endangered plant species growing within the Tennessee state park system, and the Rocky Fork Creek, after which the park is named, is the most pollutant-free creek in the Nolichucky River Watershed. The park is working to protect and preserve these unique natural resources, in cooperation with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, the Tennessee Division of Forestry, the U.S. Forest Service, the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy, The Conservation Fund, and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.
- With 18 miles of state park trails and large elevation changes, the park is developing the trails to be more sustainable in order to reduce soil erosion and vegetation damage. Park staff have been removing the exotic-invasive plants like Japanese spirea, tree-of-heaven, and multiflora rose. Through a partnership to improve the forest ecosystem with Tennessee Division of Forestry, the park has started to treat native hemlocks to remove and protect against the invasive species the Hemlock Wooly Adelgid (HWA). In an attempt to recover some of the lost hemlocks due to the HWA, a pilot project is in development between Rocky Fork State Park and local high school agriculture and environmental science classes to grow hemlocks from Rocky Fork hemlock cuttings.
- Also, in anticipation of planned park development occurring in the front country of the park, water quality of park creeks will be tracked before, during, and after the development to minimize impact on the watershed. Water quality testing will be completed by park staff and a local high school environmental science class. Additionally, most of the park’s foot bridges are constructed of reclaimed hemlock trees (that have been killed by HWA). To support the Tennessee State Parks “Go Green With Us” Initiative, bear-resistant trash cans and a variety of recycling containers will be installed at the park.