KODAK, Tenn. (WATE) — An East Tennessee birding site has been named Tennessee’s State Park of the Year by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation.
TDEC named Seven Islands State Birding Park as the Park of the Year as part of the Tennessee State Parks Awards of Excellence.
The award is given to a park that has demonstrated excellence in innovation, sustainability, interpretation, resource management, facilities management, customer engagement, and fiscally responsible operation, TDEC said.
“Seven Islands State Park had an outstanding year of achievement, and we are excited to announce this award for the park,” said Greer Tidwell, deputy commissioner of Conservation at TDEC. “It takes a top-notch performance to stand above 57 state parks, and Seven Islands delivered extraordinary results.”
Seven Islands State Birding Park encompasses more than 400 acres around the French Broad River in Knox County, approximately 19 miles east of Knoxville, where more than 190 species of birds have been sighted. The diverse, natural landscape of aquatic and grassland habitats make the park a premier birding destination.
TDEC explained that the park has worked with an Adverse Childhood Experiences grant and local schools to provide educational programs for more than 1,100 students.
Seven Islands State Birding Park has also recorded more than 2,268 volunteer hours with more than 50 volunteers and three interns involved in numerous community science efforts. Additionally, park staff and volunteers removed six acres of invasive species, planted five acres of pollinator habitat, removed 1,130 feet of barbed wire, and removed two tons of debris from historic dump sites.
The park has also made major renovations to facilities, created 1,100 feet of new trail and renovated another 676 feet.