Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee and Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) Commissioner David Salyers recently announced the winners of the 2021 Governor’s Environmental Stewardship Awards, naming the Kingsport Greenbelt as one of the winners.
The Kingsport Greenbelt was recognized by the governor for natural resource conservation. In its 35th year, the awards program will honor Kingsport’s achievement along with all winners, including categories such as clean air, water quality conservation, building green and more.
“Whether it’s a private business, a government body, or a college or university, we want to recognize those who are showing a commitment to protecting the environment in Tennessee,” Lee said. “Our honorees this year have proved worthy of such recognition.”
The Governor’s Environmental Stewardship Awards program recognizes exceptional voluntary actions that improve or protect the environment and natural resources with projects or initiatives not required by law or regulation. The awards program was instituted in 1986 by Ernie Blankenship of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Health, a predecessor of TDEC, and has been adopted by the Governor’s office as one of its award programs.
“We have an outstanding group of award recipients,” Salyers said. “We want these awards not only to honor the winners but to encourage others to follow their lead.”
The Greenbelt received the Governor’s Environmental Stewardship Award for the 10-plus mile linear park’s constant expansion and achievement. Highlights of the Greenbelt’s accomplishments are listed below:
- In 2020, the City of Kingsport completed the remaining mile of trail necessary to finish the Kingsport Greenbelt Master Plan, a project that began in the 1980s.
- The park connects residential neighborhoods, traditional parks, downtown, commercial districts, historical landmarks, schools and activity centers across the Kingsport community.
- Provides transportation links, waterway access, environmental enhancement, ecosystem protection and recreational opportunities.
- The project has leveraged $7 million in investments from multiple partners, community donations, 35 state and federal grants, 104 property acquisitions, city funding and over 82,000 community volunteer hours.
- Provides an important buffer for two waterways, Reedy Creek and north and south forks of the Holston River, protecting over 55 acres of wetland property that adjoin the greenbelt.
- Signage throughout the trails includes wayfinding kiosks with display panels depicting area bird species, special bird identification signs, signs explaining the important role wetlands play in our environment, rules signs that ask the public to help protect wildflowers/vegetation and wildlife and information signage explaining the importance of watersheds.
- A “Fitness Zone” is located beside the greenbelt, which provides a unique space to exercise in an open area and versatile outdoor fitness equipment to strengthen all muscle groups.
- Pedestrian and bicycle counters on the greenbelt indicate an average of 70,000 users per year.
For more information about Kingsport’s parks, please visit kingsportparksandrecreation.org.