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Press Releases

Ramsey Appoints Stevens to West TN River Basin Authority

Press release from the Office of Tennessee Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey; February 12, 2013:

(February 12, 2013, NASHVILLE) – Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey (R-Blountville) today announced the appointment of Senator John Stevens (R-Huntingdon) to the West Tennessee River Basin Authority, a division of the state’s Environment and Conservation Department.

“John Stevens is an outstanding young lawyer and an excellent freshman member of the Senate,” said Lt. Governor Ramsey. “I have every confidence that he will do West Tennessee proud on this commission.”
“Our waterways are central to this state’s economy and critical to West Tennessee’s way of life,” said Sen. Stevens. “I look forward to finding innovative ways to conserve our beautiful natural resources while protecting the rights of property owners. I’d like to thank Lt. Governor Ramsey for allowing me to serve West Tennessee on the Authority.”

Administratively attached to the Department of Environment and Conservation, the West Tennessee River Basin Authority was created in 1972 to preserve the natural flow and function of the Hatchie, Loosahatchie, Obion and Forked Deer River basins.

Covering a twenty-county area of West Tennessee comprised of Lauderdale, Lake, Dyer, Obion, Madison, Weakley, Henry, Gibson, Carroll, Benton, Decatur, Hardin, Haywood, Crockett, Henderson, Chester, McNairy, Tipton, Fayette and Hardeman Counties, the authority is made up of 31 members that include state lawmakers, county mayors and state conservation, agriculture and wildlife officials.

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Press Releases

TDEC to Hold Workshops on Recreational Grant Application Process

Press release from the Tennessee Department of Environment & Conservation; January 29, 2013:

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation has announced a series of helpful workshops in February, designed to explain the grant application process for the department’s Recreational Trails or Tennessee Recreation Initiative programs.

Recreational Trails Program

Kicking off the 2013 Recreational Trails Program grant cycle, TDEC’s Division of Recreation Educational Services will host three workshops on Tuesday, February 12, in each grand division of the state. These workshops are specifically geared toward eligible applicants, such as government officials, parks and recreation departments and non-profit organizations.

Recreational Trails Program grants may be used for non-routine maintenance and restoration of existing trails, development and rehabilitation, trailside or trailhead facilities such as restrooms, kiosks and parking lots, construction of new trails, and land acquisition for recreational trails or corridors. Federal, state and local government agencies may apply, as well as non-profit organizations that have obtained IRS 501(c)(3) status and have a written trail management agreement with the agency that owns the property where the trail project is located.

The February 12, 2013, workshops will be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. (local times apply) at the following locations:

  • Environment and Conservation’s Jackson Environmental Field Office, 1625 Hollywood Drive, Jackson, Tenn., 38305
  • Environment and Conservation’s Downtown Nashville Central Office, 401 Church Street, L&C Tower, 17th Floor Conference Room, Nashville, Tenn., 37243
  • Environment and Conservation’s Knoxville Environmental Field Office, 3711 Middlebrook Pike, Knoxville, Tenn., 37921
  • Funding for RTP grants is provided by the Federal Highway Administration through the federal Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act. The Department of Environment and Conservation administers this grant program for the state of Tennessee.

The application deadline for the 2013 Recreational Trails Programs grant cycle is May 3, 2013, at 4 p.m. (Central), and may be submitted in CD format (no binders will be accepted). The RTP grant is an 80/20 percent match, with a minimum grant of $20,000 ($5,000 match required) and a maximum grant of $200,000 ($50,000 match required).

For more information about the upcoming RTP application workshop or to register, contact Carol Thompson at (615) 532-0208 or carol.h.thompson@tn.gov; or contact Recreation Educational Services at (615) 532-0748 or tdec.res@tn.gov.

Tennessee Recreation Initiative Program

TDEC also is soliciting Tennessee Recreation Initiative Program grant applications from local governments that do not currently have established parks or recreation departments (or a previously established department). TRIP grants help communities create recreation opportunities for citizens by assisting with the establishment of a parks department. A workshop will be held in Nashville on Wednesday, February 20, beginning at 10 a.m. (Central) at TDEC’s Downtown Nashville Central Office (401 Church Street, L&C Tower) in the 10th Floor Conference Room.

The Tennessee Recreation Initiative Program was created in 1995 by the General Assembly and administered through TDEC. The TRIP program provides grants to hire a professional director, establish a recreation office and to hire other staff as needed. Eligible incorporated cities or county governments may apply for funding through a competitive matching grant process.

During the 2013 grant cycle, a maximum of three grants will be awarded on the basis of need and population for any city or county in Tennessee. The grant is offered over a three-year period. During the first two years of the program, the community will be required to match up to $50,000. The community is responsible for 100 percent of the funding during the third year.

TRIP grant applications are due March 29, 2013, and may be submitted on a CD (no binders will be accepted). For more information about the upcoming TRIP application workshop or to register, contact Carol Thompson at (615) 532-0208 or carol.h.thompson@tn.gov; or contact Recreation Educational Services at (615) 532-0748 or tdec.res@tn.gov.

Information about both the RTP and TRIP grants, along with other recreation or conservation-based grant programs that may be available in the future, can be found on TDEC’s website at www.tn.gov/environment/recreation/.

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Press Releases

Haslam Announces $1.7M in Recycling Grants

Press release from the Tennessee Department of Environment & Conservation; December 13, 2012:

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Department of Environment and Conservation Commissioner Bob Martineau today awarded approximately $1.7 million in Recycling Equipment and Hub / Spoke Grants for FY 2013 projects to help reduce landfill waste in Tennessee.

“We are pleased to fund these 18 projects through the state’s Solid Waste Management Fund because they will promote and increase recycling across the state of Tennessee and engage partnerships among counties and municipalities,” Haslam said.

Recycling Equipment Grants

The Recycling Equipment Grant program helps encourage recycling and reduces the amount of solid waste going into Tennessee landfills. It was authorized by the Solid Waste Management Act of 1991 and is supported by the Tennessee Solid Waste Management Fund, which is administered by Environment and Conservation. The fund receives its revenues from a state surcharge on each ton of solid waste disposed in landfills and from a fee on new tires sold in the state.

Recycling equipment grants may be used to purchase equipment for new recycling programs, improve and expand the operation of an existing site or prepare recyclable materials for transport and marketing. Grants may be awarded to counties, cities, non-profit recycling organizations and solid waste authorities to help reach or exceed the goals set forth in the Solid Waste Management Act of 1991. Each recipient is required to match the state grant on a sliding scale basis. Local matching funds toward these 12 projects total more than $226,000.

Recycling Equipment Grants totaling $262,999 were awarded today to:

 

APPLICANT COUNTY GRANT AMT APPLICANT MATCH PROJECT/ EQUIP.
Carroll County Carroll $23,164 $5,791 Truck
Carter County Carter $25,000 $30,016 Conveyor system, separator and containers
Claiborne County Claiborne $24,000 $35,000 Compactors
Cumberland County Cumberland $20,400 $13,600 Fork Lift
Decatur County Decatur $25,000 $7,400 Conveyor / conveyor table
Fentress County Fentress $25,000 $20,000 Roll back truck
Jefferson County Jefferson $25,000 $52,372 Baler, conveyor
Lawrence County Lawrence $23,336 $5,834 Forklift
Lincoln County Lincoln $12,749 $5,464 Hoppers, lids, trailers, mini-cycler and glass crusher
McNairy County McNairy $22,750 $9,750 Baler, truck and containers
Sevier Solid Waste, Inc Sevier $25,000 $29,750 Baler
Washington County Washington $11,600 $11,600 Containers

 

Recycling Hub and Spoke Grants

A total of $1,436,178 was awarded in Recycling Hub and Spoke Grants to six regional recycling projects to facilitate and increase recycling efforts between counties and municipalities by promoting greater regional cooperation.  These grants also are authorized by the Solid Waste Management Act of 1991 and supported by the Tennessee Solid Waste Management Fund.

The Recycling Hub and Spoke Grant program assists in the development and expansion of a regional facility to collect, transport and process recyclable material for multi-county areas or municipalities.  Counties or multi-county areas in partnership with cities, solid waste authorities and nonprofit recycling organizations chartered in the state of Tennessee are eligible for the Recycling Hub and Spoke Grants. Recycling Hub and Spoke Grants announced today include:

 

APPLICANT COUNTY / PARTNERSHIP GRANT AMT PROJECT / EQUIP.
Marshall County In partnership with Maury, Giles, Lincoln and Bedford counties; and the cities of Lewisburg, Columbia, Petersburg, Chapel Hill, and Cornersville $300,000 Retrofits to recycling building, commercial kitchen equipment, scales, conveyor, upgrades to sort lines, and skid loader
City of Columbia Partnership with Maury and Marshall counties $225,000 Recycling truck
Goodwill Industries of Knoxville Partnership with Cocke and Grainger counties; and the cities of Sevierville, Pigeon Forge, and Gatlinburg $299,178 Baler, conveyors, skid loader, forklifts and front- load recycle bins
West TN Recycling Hub and Spoke – Chester County Administered by Chester County in partnership with Hardin and McNairy counties $99,000 (Chester)$88,600 (Hardin)$112,400 (McNairy) Scales, conveyor, glass crusher, containers, promotional / advertising and building demolition
Cumberland County Partnership between Cumberland County and the cities of Crossville, Crab Orchard and Pleasant Hill $300,000 Recycling facility development
City of Petersburg Partnership with Marshall County, serving the city of Petersburg, Marshall and Lincoln counties $12,000 Recycling trailer

 

More information about Recycling Equipment or Recycling Hub and Spoke grants may be found on the Department of Environment and Conservation’s website at www.tn.gov/environment/swm/grants.

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Press Releases

Haslam Applauds TN Environmental Leaders, Innovators

Press release from Department of Environment and Conservation; Jan. 25, 2012:

Nominations are Open for Governor’s 2012 Environmental Stewardship Awards

NASHVILLE – The Department of Environment and Conservation is inviting Tennesseans to submit nominations for the Governor’s 2012 Environmental Stewardship Awards. The awards recognize Tennesseans who go above and beyond to protect the state’s diverse environment.

“Caring for Tennessee’s numerous natural resources positively impacts the health of our communities – from the air we breathe to the recreational activities we enjoy every day,” Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam said. “We are pleased to once again be in a position to recognize environmental leaders and innovators across the state whose stewardship efforts lead the way in protecting Tennessee’s air, land and water.”

The Governor’s Environmental Stewardship Awards cover 10 categories: Building Green; Clean Air; Energy and Renewable Resources; Environmental Education and Outreach (business category); Environmental Education and Outreach (school category); Land Use; Materials Management; Natural Heritage; Sustainable Performance and Lifetime Achievement.

Any individual, business, organization, educational institution or agency is eligible, provided they are located in Tennessee and projects were completed during the 2011 calendar year. All nominees must have a minimum three years of environmental compliance with the Department of Environment and Conservation. Self-nominations are encouraged.

“The quality of our environment plays such an important role in the healthy lifestyle Tennesseans enjoy and expect,” said Environment and Conservation Commissioner Bob Martineau. “These annual awards give us an opportunity to acknowledge outstanding efforts throughout the state and to celebrate those who have gone above and beyond to enhance our shared environment.”

A panel of judges representing agricultural, conservation, forestry, environmental and academic professionals will select award recipients based on criteria including on-the-ground achievement, innovation and public education. The deadline for nominations is March 31, 2012. Award recipients will be announced in late May 2012.

For more information about each category, judging criteria and nomination forms, visit TDEC’s Web site at www.tn.gov/environment/awards.

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Press Releases

Grants Offered to Local Communities to Improve Green Spaces

Press Release from Department of Environment and Conservation; Jan. 19, 2012: 

Environment and Conservation Will Host Grant Workshops Feb. 13

 NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation is now accepting applications for Local Parks and Recreation Fund grants to help communities create and expand parks and recreation services. The department is contacting local communities about the grant availability, and will host a series of workshops throughout the state on Monday, Feb. 13 to help communities understand the application process. The application deadline is June 29, 2012.

“Gov. Haslam proposed and the General Assembly approved restoring the funds for this program to help local communities purchase lands for parks, natural areas, greenways and recreational facilities,” said Environment and Conservation Commissioner Bob Martineau. “These grants are specifically designed to help local communities improve their green spaces and we are pleased to provide this funding for the benefit of Tennessee’s citizens.”

Local Parks and Recreation Fund grants may also be used for trail development and capital projects in parks, natural areas and greenways. LPRF grants require a 50 percent match, with a maximum possible award of $250,000. By statute, at least 60 percent of the funds allocated for these grants will be awarded to municipal governments.

The department’s Division of Recreation Educational Services will host three workshops on Monday, Feb. 13, from 10 a.m. to noon (local times apply) at the following locations:

· Environment and Conservation’s Jackson Environmental Field Office, 1625 Hollywood Drive, Jackson, Tenn., 38305

· Environment and Conservation’s Downtown Nashville Central Office, 401 Church Street, L&C Tower, 17th Floor, Nashville, Tenn., 37243

· Environment and Conservation’s Knoxville Environmental Field Office, 3711 Middlebrook Pike, Knoxville, Tenn., 37921

Each county government and incorporated municipality is allowed to submit one grant application per cycle. Cities and counties may apply jointly for one project in addition to applying for one city or county project. Governments with open LPRF projects from a previous year are not eligible to reapply until the open project is completed. The workshop series is designed to help local government officials and parks and recreation departments understand the application process for the 2012 grant cycle (attendance by grant applicants is recommended but not mandatory).

Grant recipients are expected to be announced this summer. The application deadline for the 2011-2012 Local Parks and Recreation Fund grant cycle is June 29, 2012, at 4 p.m. (CST).

For more information about the upcoming application workshop or to register, contact Carol Thompson at (615) 532-0208 or at carol.h.thompson@tn.gov; or contact Recreation Educational Services at (615) 532-0748 or tdec.res@tn.gov. For more information about the application requirements for LPRF grants, or about other parks and recreation grants administered by the Department of Environment and Conservation, please visit the website at www.tn.gov/environment/recreation/grants.shtml.

 

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Environment and Natural Resources Tax and Budget

State Golf Courses Still Laying Up Short of Profitability

A foursome of Republican lawmakers made headlines recently after a Nashville television station revealed they’d spent a leisurely legislative-day afternoon this spring out on the links.

In fact, a lot of golfers who might not realize it are shooting publicly subsidized  rounds when they tee off at courses owned by the state government, according to a recent report by a spending watchdog group.

Taxpayers, the Tennessee Center for Policy Research says, are getting clubbed for a portion of the greens fees.

Since TCPR began scoring the financial performance of state government-managed golf spots five years ago, the public has sunk nearly $7 million down the hole.

That may seem like a lot of green, but government administrators are quick to extol the management of their facilities. And one of the most worthwhile aspects of the tax-funded greenskeeping, they say, is that three government courses have won prestigious awards for going environmentally green — even as their budgets have spent years in the red.

Last month Fall Creek Falls Golf Course was awarded designation as a “Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary” for meeting “specific criteria in the areas of environmental planning; wildlife and habitat management; outreach and education; chemical use reduction and safety; water conservation; and water quality management.”

During the last budget cycle at Fall Creek, lawmakers teed up $731,000 for the golf course to operate. However, the facility is expected to only generate about $478,000 in revenue, according to numbers provided by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, which manages the course.

By taking measures to qualify for the environmental sustainability award, the course will save about $1,400 in lawn care costs and reduce water usage by 16,000 gallons a year, according to TDEC.

Two other courses that have previously won the international Audubon award also operate at a loss. In the FY2008-09 budget year, Harrison Bay dropped $20,482 more than it earned in revenue and Paris Landing closed out $59,959 in the rough.

Tennessee is home to 11 state-owned golf courses. The government spent about $8.5 million last year on the facilities, while collecting only $6.9 million from users – a loss to taxpayers of about $1.6 million, concluded TCPR’s 2010 “Pork Report.”

“It’s not fair for Tennessee tax payers who don’t golf — many of them can’t golf — to subsidize those who choose to golf,” Justin Owen, acting executive director for the Nashville-based group, said.

Courses handicapped by low revenues ought to at least be charging user fees a fair ways closer to profitability, said Owen. And if the government can’t operate the facilities in the black, the fiscally sub-par courses should be sold off or leased out so the private sector can take a swing at running them, he said.

Jim Fyke, Department of Environment and Conservation commissioner, acknowledged in an interview with TNReport that “golf is in a tough time right now.”

“I’m not going to tell you golf courses, in immediate times, are going to start to make money,” said Fyke. He added that the Audubon award is “a feather in our cap when we’re getting our negative publicity on our lack of play at these courses.”

Furthermore, said Fyke, the courses are closer to solvency than the TCPR study suggests. All but three of golf courses are destination locations, or “hospitality centers,” situated near state-owned inns, restaurants, camp grounds, swimming pools, hiking trails, and marinas that attract visitors, he said.

Add up the costs of tourists’ golf fees, lodging, food and other expenses, and the recreational hubs are 99.1 percent solvent, said Fyke.

“It’s really, I think, a little bit unfair to single (golf courses) out,” he said.

Two Republican legislators, Rep. Joshua Evans of Greenbrier and Sen. Mae Beavers of Mt. Juliet, also looked at slicing the facilities this spring, proposing that the state lease or sell any courses that under-perform for two years straight.

The measure was never heard in committee.

Lawmakers tentatively agreed to get rid of two courses next year, anyway. The Legislature OK’d one-time funding for Old Stone Fort and T.O. Fuller golf courses in the latest budget, but will force the facilities to close when that money runs out in 2011 unless the General Assembly calls a Mulligan.

Courses handicapped by low revenues ought to at least be charging greens fees a fair ways closer to fair market value, said Owen. And if the government can’t operate the facilities in the black, the fiscally sub-par courses should be sold off or leased out so the private sector can take a swing at it, said Owen.