NASHVILLE – Tennessee Department of General Services Commissioner Steve Cates today announced that notices are being posted statewide to inform the public about a new law that prohibits camping on state-owned property, except for areas specifically designated by the appropriate department or agency, such as the Department of Environment and Conservation that oversees state parks.
“These notices are designed to inform citizens and visitors to our state about the new law and its impact on state-owned facilities across Tennessee,” Cates said. “Although the legislation calls for an immediate prohibition of unauthorized camping on state property, we believe a seven day notification period, beginning today, is an appropriate time frame to make sure the word gets out. After that time, the state will be prepared to enforce the statute.”
The law, HB2638/SB2508 sponsored by Rep. Eric Watson (R-Cleveland) and Sen. Delores Gresham (R-Somerville), makes unauthorized camping on state-owned property a Class A misdemeanor criminal offense, which calls for the maximum sentence of 11 months and 29 days in jail and/or a maximum fine of $2,500. It also subjects items associated with illegal camping to seizure and forfeiture.
The General Assembly approved the measure by a vote of 67 to 21 in the House of Representatives and 21 to 9 in the Senate. The governor signed the bill into law today.