September 15, 2023 – Tennessee Governor Bill Lee kicked off his statewide Conservation Tour, highlighting Tennessee’s conservation strategy and celebrating recent investments in state parks, brownfield cleanup and advancement of nuclear energy. The Governor also proclaimed September 23rd, 2023, as Tennessee Public Lands Day.
“From Mountain City to Memphis, our state is blessed with natural beauty and rich natural resources,” said Gov. Lee. “Our resources will only be around for the future if we invest in them today. That’s why we’ve developed a conservation strategy that balances our state’s economic growth with a plan to protect our environment.”
This year, Gov. Lee worked with the General Assembly to pass key legislation and fund statewide conservation priorities in the Fiscal Year 2023-2024 budget.
· State Parks & Natural Areas: $371.3 million to improve and expand three additional state natural areas, build two new park lodges, complete four more outdoor trails and create four new state parks.
· Rural Brownfield Cleanup: $5.3 million for the Rural Brownfields Investment Act to begin remediation efforts for 175 known brownfield sites, including the creation of a new state-administered grant and technical support program for remediation and economic development of existing brownfields.
· Clean, Reliable Nuclear Energy: $50 million for a Nuclear Fund to recruit companies to the state that will establish a nuclear development and manufacturing ecosystem built for the future of Tennessee.
In addition to passing this year’s legislative and budget priorities, Gov. Lee has taken continued action to advance Tennessee’s conservation strategy for a brighter future:
· In May 2023, Gov. Lee signed Executive Order 101 to create the Tennessee Nuclear Energy Advisory Council, which will seek to build upon the state’s legacy in nuclear innovation and drive continued investment to create a nuclear energy ecosystem for the future of Tennessee. The Governor and General Assembly announced appointments to the Advisory Council in July.
· This Spring, Gov. Lee joined industry leaders at the annual Nuclear Energy Assembly in Washington, D.C. to highlight Tennessee’s leading role in the future of American energy.
· On August 3, the administration convened the first annual Tennessee Conservation Summit, bringing together state officials, business and community leaders and conservation stakeholders from across the state to help develop strategic initiatives stewarding Tennessee’s natural heritage for generations to come.
In the coming years, the Lee administration is committed to furthering the state’s conservation strategy by building on the recommendations of public and private stakeholders across Tennessee. The agenda’s goals include exploring opportunities to improve water infrastructure and quality, supporting natural areas, expanding safe nuclear energy production and more.
First Lady Maria Lee’s Tennessee Serves will focus on preserving and restoring state parks in the month of September, with volunteer opportunities at nearly every park across the state.
The Conservation Tour will include stops across three Grand Divisions of Tennessee, including the following initial visits in September:
· Seven Islands State Park in Kodak, TN
· Brownfield Project in Bolivar, TN
· Middle Fork Bottoms State Park in Three Way, TN
· Booker T. Washington State Park in Chattanooga, TN
· Mousetail Landing State Park in Linden, TN (Tennessee Serves event)