Johnson City Press: State gathering public input for Rocky Fork State Park planning
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State gathering public input for Rocky Fork State Park planning

Sue Guinn Legg • Updated Oct 30, 2018 at 12:07 PM

FLAG POND — The state Department of Environment and Conservation’s division of Tennessee State Parks is gathering public comments and suggestions to help create a business plan for Rocky Fork State Park.

Part of a statewide initiative, state park officials are requesting public input to help revise and develop proposed business plans for each of 33 state parks across Tennessee.

Current business plans for existing parks and “Management Division Statements” for developing parks like Rocky Fork can be viewed online at tnstateparks.com/about/planning-process.

A public meeting on current and future plans for Rock Fork will be held Monday, Nov. 12, at the old Flag Pond school located at 4361 Old Schoolhouse Road (Tenn Highway 23).

The meeting will begin with an open house from 4:30-5 p.m. followed by the meeting with state and local park officials from 5-6.

Rocky Fork Park Manager Jesse Germeraad said Monday he is updating the 2017 Management Division Statement available at the website for presentation at the meeting.

According to the current statement, at approximately 4,400 feet, Rocky Fork has the highest elevation of any state park in Tennessee.

Located approximately 10 miles from Erwin and 27 miles from Johnson City, it encompasses 2,057 acres in Unicoi County and is surrounded by the Cherokee National Forest.

The park’s features include a more than 18-mile trail system that connects to Appalachian National Scenic Trail, pristine trout streams and spectacular mountain overlooks.

Improvements to the park’s trail system have been underway for the past three years and now include trail markers along each of the trails and hemlock log footbridges over many of the trail’s stream crossings.

Most of the trail system is open to hiking and mountain biking and nearly 13 miles of trail are open to horseback riding. A gravel parking lot was constructed near the park entrance last year and bear-proof recycling and waste disposal containers have been installed in the parking area.

Germeraad said initial plans for the location of the park’s first structures, including a visitors’ center, picnic pavilions, utility buildings and other infrastructure, have been revised several times over the past two years. More up-to-date information on the construction plans will be presented at the Nov. 12 meeting.

Representatives of the state Department of Transportation will also be available to answer questions at the meeting.

Comments and suggestions to be used to develop a business plan for the park may be submitted at the meeting or through Dec. 12. online at stateoftennessee.formstack.com/forms/tspbusiness_plans_comment.

Email Sue Guinn Legg at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @sueleggjcpress. Like her on Facebook at facebook.com/sueleggjcpress.

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