New state park could be established in West Tennessee

MADISON COUNTY, Tenn. — A local restoration area may turn into an official state park soon.

In February, during Gov. Bill Lee’s State of the State address, he said he planned on creating four new state parks across the state.

One of these proposed state parks could be an upgrade to the already established Middle Fork Bottoms Restoration Area.

“Roughly a 1,200-acre area. It’s a hardwood conservation and floodplain wetland plain area. I think this park is a great representation of what a West Tennessee ecosystem looks like,” said Zach Tinkle, the West Tennessee Area Manger for Tennessee State Parks.

The construction of the Middle Fork Bottoms Restoration Area began in 2018 as a floodplain restoration project under the West Tennessee River Basin Authority.

However, no structures have been built as of 2023.

If the budget is approved, when completed, it would be titled as a state park and they will add a plethora of things to do.

Visitors will be able to enjoy five miles of asphalt paved walking trails, gravel parking areas, four fishing areas, and paddle boat access to the Middle Forked Deer River.

“If it’s approved, funding is going to be put in place for a visitor’s center, maintenance facility, boardwalk, boat ramps, trail bridges utility infrastructure, and other amenities,” Tinkle said.

The state decided that this location was suitable because it’s already state-owned land, and it is easily accessible to the public. The park is extremely early in its development stages.

However, Tinkle says he believes it will be something that the citizens of West Tennessee can be proud of.

“The park would be a conservation showcase, feature 250,000 recently planted hardwood trees, 20-acres of warm season prairie, 200-acres of restored shallow water wetlands, and two miles of restored stream,” Tinkle said.

This new state park is part of the proposed budget and has not been approved by the Tennessee General Assembly yet.

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