IF YOU GO
* What: Meeting on future of Cloudland Canyon State Park
* Where: Cloudland Canyon State Park, 122 Cloudland Canyon Road, Rising Fawn, GA 30738
* When: May 9, 7-8 p.m.
* Who: Open to the public
* For more information: 706-657-4050
Big things are in store for Georgia's Cloudland Canyon State Park, which some consider to be the gem of the state's parks.
Park managers are meeting with community leaders and area residents on May 9 to discuss the park's strategic business and management plan.
Robert Davenport, a trustee for the Lula Lake Land Trust, said public meetings such as this are being held all across the state.
"The purpose of the meeting ... is to solicit public input and talk about the future of state parks, and I think the context that they're doing that in is the value of state parks for tourism," he said.
Bobby Wilson, Cloudland Canyon's park manager, was unavailable for comment Wednesday, but Davenport said park officials hoped to increase tourist traffic to the area.
The business plan offers a number of suggestions for ways to draw people in, including a zipline and a ropes course.
"I think those are great amenities for the park and keep people interested in different aspects [of it]," said Mike Pollock, who lives next to the park and also serves as a trustee for the Lula Lake Land Trust. "They've got a great Frisbee golf course that is a huge draw."
Pollock said many area organizations, including the Lookout Mountain Conservancy and the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, have worked hard to connect Cloudland Canyon to the Chattanooga area. He said the land trust has partnered with the park to expand the trails system by 45 miles, a project expected to be completed by the end of 2013.
He said he hopes that involvement will encourage other community members to take part in planning the park's future.
"All of these organizations are basically helping to create a conduit that will create a trail system that will extend off of the Chattanooga Riverwalk and go all the way to Cloudland Canyon and beyond," he said. "So the value of this to this little area is tremendous economically, but it also creates connectivity between this rural area and the city of Chattanooga."
Contact staff writer Lindsay Burkholder at lburkholder@times freepress.com or 423-757-6592.
Lindsay Burkholder is originally from Winston-Salem, N.C. She graduated from Covenant College in May 2012 with a bachelor's degree in English. While at Covenant she spent time writing for and editing the news section of the school newspaper, The Bagpipe. Burkholder also attended the World Journalism Institute in New York City in 2011.