CROSSVILLE – Gov. Don Sundquist on Monday formally dedicated the Cumberland Trail, Tennessee’s 53rd state park and its only linear park, in a ceremony on Black Mountain in Cumberland County. Named by Sundquist as a state park in 1998, 40 percent of the 283-mile trail is now open to hikers.
“The Cumberland Trail has been the dream of Tennessee hikers and nature enthusiasts for over 30 years,” Sundquist said. “Today, thanks to the hard work of volunteers and public and private partners, that dream is now a reality.”
The ceremony was the culmination of the “Tennessee Walk,” a monthlong celebration of the Cumberland Trail led by Deputy to the Governor for Policy Justin P. Wilson. Wilson was joined by Sundquist and First Lady Martha Sundquist, volunteers, hikers, park rangers, local officials, scout groups and others while hiking over 100 miles of the trail in September.
“Justin Wilson has been an extremely effective and dedicated public servant in my administration, and has led state environmental policy for the past seven years” Sundquist said. “Today, I recognize his service to the people of Tennessee by formally renaming this park the Justin P. Wilson Cumberland Trail State Park.”
“I am deeply humbled by Governor Sundquist’s recognition,” Wilson said. “Governor Sundquist saw Cumberland Trail as a once-in-history opportunity to link natural areas, provide a scenic corridor for hikers, habitat for wildlife, and an economic and tourism engine for rural communities. We all owe him our thanks for supporting volunteers and creating this magnificent state park.”
Wilson served as commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation before becoming Deputy to the Governor for Policy in 1997. In that role, Wilson served as Sundquist’s chief policy advisor on a variety of issues. Wilson has attracted greatest notice through his leadership on environmental issues, where he created a broad-based workgroup to develop sound, science-based environmental policy.
Wilson secured a historic cleanup agreement and dedicated funds from the U.S. Department of Energy to clean up the legacy of the Cold War at Oak Ridge, and secured significant reductions of emissions of air pollutants from the Tennessee Valley Authority. He negotiated the donation of 13,000 acres and a $9 million trust fund for local water projects from TVA, and led numerous other efforts to secure donations of land to the state valued at $45 million. Wilson led negotiations to clean up the long-polluted Pigeon River and protected Fall Creek Falls State Park from surface mining He was named the Tennessee Conservation League’s “Conservationist of the Year” in 1997.
When complete, Justin P. Wilson Cumberland Trail State Park will stretch 283 miles across Tennessee, cutting through 11 counties from the Georgia-Alabama border to the Virginia-Kentucky border. The park is expected to be completed by 2008.
Sundquist thanked the following organizations for donating land, funding and volunteer labor to the creation and maintenance of the Cumberland Trail: Chattanooga Hiking Club, The Conservation Fund, Cumberland Trail Conference, Governor's Council on Greenways and Trails, Sierra Club, Smoky Mountain Hiking Club, Tennessee Conservation Commission, Tennessee Conservation League, Tennessee Parks and Greenways Foundation, Tennessee Trails Association and Cumberland Trail Volunteers.