Updated at 2:17 p.m. on Tuesday, July 16, 2019, with more information.
The Friends of Tennessee State Parks group is giving away thousands of dollars to help with improvement projects across Tennessee.
The organization's board of directors announced it will give about $8,500 to state park friends groups and newly forming groups. The money will fund projects that include buying trail building tools, adding new historic headstones, purchasing equipment and more.
Chattanooga area projects include $486 for grab-and-go packs to be used at Harrison Bay State Park, $500 for a trail map project at South Cumberland State Park and $275 for picnic tables at a trailhead at Cummins Falls State Park.
Friends groups use volunteers to improve and maintain state parks. The nonprofit groups often help with maintenance, the development of new projects and give input on decisions. The larger Tennessee State Parks friends group holds fundraising events during the year to help financially with the individual parks' groups.
Money was raised through various events and partnerships including a silent auction, a Tennessee Brew Work Charity of the Month program and a regional state park director's conference. The grants offer up to $500 per park.
Fifteen hundred dollars will be used to help start-up costs for new friends groups at Old Stone Fort, Hiwassee Ocoee Rivers State Park and Bicentennial Mall State Park.
"We are pleased to offer another round of grant funding to our Friends and congratulate this year's recipients," said LeaAnn Carr, president of The Friends of Tennessee State Parks. "In addition to our Mini Grants program, we were able to award three Start Up grants to groups looking to become a 501c3 in sole support of their local state park. This funding will provide the seed money to organize their groups."
The following Friends groups received a Mini Grant:
- Friends of Johnsonville State Park: refurbish and replace historic headstones ($420)
- Friends of Cummins Falls State Park: picnic tables for trailhead ($275)
- Friends of the Forest (Meeman Shelby Forest State Park): interpretive signage ($325)
- Friends of Cove Lake State Park: little free library ($500)
- Friends of Bledsoe Creek State Park: butterfly and hummingbird garden ($500)
- Friends of Cumberland Mountain State Park: water bottle filling station ($500)
- Friends of Natchez Trace State Park: trail building tools ($500)
- Friends of Harrison Bay State Park: grab-and-go packs ($486)
- Friends of Rocky Fork State Park: trail building equipment ($450.97)
- Friends of Nathan Bedford Forrest State Park: historic photos for cabins ($500)
- Friends of David Crockett State Park: kayaks ($500)
- Friends of South Cumberland State Park: trail map project ($500)
- Friends of T.O. Fuller State Park: community garden ($500)
- Friends of Edgar Evins State Park: new panels for Storybook Trail ($500)
- Friends of Henry Horton State Park: wood carving and mill stone ($500)
Contact Mark Pace at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6659. Follow him on Twitter @themarkpace and on Facebook at ChattanoogaOutdoorsTFP.