Each year, Tennessee State Parks recognizes the excellent work done in parks throughout the state by giving out awards. We wanted to let you know that Radnor Lake State Park won the award for “Park of the Year”, which is the highest award given to all 56 Tennessee State Parks.
Parks nominated for this award have demonstrated excellence in the areas of Innovation, Sustainability, Interpretation, and Resource Management – as well as fiscally responsible operation of the park.
In 2015, Radnor Lake State Park achieved several significant accomplishments. The park and its staff consistently work to meet the mission of Tennessee State Parks by preserving and protecting our land and finding new ways to provide safe, quality outdoor experiences for their visitors. Here are some of the highlights accomplished over this past calendar year.
FORL Board with Park of the Year Award on Feb. 17th, 2016. Pix by S.Ward with help and guidance of life coach Gretchen Pritchett
In the area of interpretation the park staff conducted 636 programs for 16,337 park visitors. To assist the ranger staff in providing quality programming, each ranger became a certified canoe instructor, participated in two birds of prey training sessions and visitor with special needs sensitivity training. Each uniform staff member at Radnor is now a Certified Interpretive Guide. Here are some samples of the programs conducted over this past year:
- Hosted 2nd Annual Geography Summit for Higher Education Partners;
- Completed three sessions of Jr. Ranger Intern Programs at Radnor Lake for over 48 young interns over a two month period;
- Three Endangered Plant Species Hikes led by Dr. Loeb from Penn State University;
- 169 Birds of Prey programs for 4,025 park visitors in 2015;
- 43 Reptile Programs for 1,110 park visitors;
- National Trails Day 2015, there were 120 volunteers and six interpretive programs for 89 park visitors;
- National Public Lands Day 2015, there were 72 volunteers and four interpretive programs for 48 park visitors
- New Year’s Eve and Day Hikes, there were two hikes with 37 park visitors;
- After Thanksgiving Hike, there were two hikes with 47 park visitors;
- First Day of Spring Hikes, there were four hikes with 60 park visitors ; and,
- Conducted over 40 land acquisition hikes as part of the efforts to educate/cultivate support for protecting the watershed and viewshed of Radnor Lake.
With regard to Resource Management, Radnor Lake has consistently been at forefront of awareness and accomplishment. In 2015, the park demonstrated its commitment to resource management by completing five Iris Fund Projects and removed 100-plus acres of exotic plants and worked with over 2,500 volunteers on resource management projects.
The park completed a new invasive plant brochure that was funded by the Friends of Radnor Lake and a Forestry Stewardship Grant. The park continued its partnerships with Dr. Loeb at Penn State University on rare and endangered plants, continued its 14th year of field research with MTSU Global Studies Program and began a new partnership with Motlow State Community College on the geology of Radnor Lake.
The park acquired over $40,000 in grant funds to assist with resource management projects over this past year and was able to achieve the following land acquisitions to protect watershed and viewshed around Radnor Lake State Park:
- Acquired a total of 33 new acres in 2015 in partnership between Tennessee State Parks and Friends of Radnor Lake;
- A 20-acre conservation easement with The Land Trust of Tennessee along the northern boundary of the natural area with landowner Kay Cheek; and,
- Went under contract on 34 new acres in partnership between Tennessee State Parks and Friends of Radnor Lake.
The staff at Radnor Lake completed several sustainability projects over the course of this past year. This included working with the Office of Sustainability and the Friends of Radnor Lake to add spray foam insulation to the following during 2015: two Ranger Residences (FORL, OSP Grant and park operation funds), Maintenance Building Roof/Attic (OSP Grant Funds), Education Center Basement Floor (OSP Grant Funds), Walter Criley Visitor’s Center Attic/Wall Space (OSP Grant Funds). Construction of the new observation deck as well as the Barbara J. Mapp aviary utilized re-milled and/or donated utility poles and Trexx decking-recycled/composite materials. LED lighting was installed at the Walter Criley Visitor Center as well as the East Parking Area Restrooms. The park also once again participated in the Trees to Trails program converting Christmas trees to mulch which was installed on the trail system at Radnor.
With regard to innovation the park’s most visible and heralded addition was the Barbara J. Mapp Aviary which opened to the public on May 2, 2015. This aviary is a great addition to the park and provides an excellent backdrop for the education center and affords the staff the ability to educate the park visitors on the raptors housed there. This was the result of a public-private partnership between the Friends of Radnor Lake, Barbara J. Mapp Foundation and numerous other partners with the State of Tennessee over the past year to fund this addition with private dollars.
In addition to the aviary, the park renovated and updated the interpretive displays at the Walter Criley Visitor Center, added a new observation deck on the Lake Trail funded by a private donor through the Friends of Radnor Lake specifically designed for spotting scope programs by park ranger staff and ADA accessibility for visitors with special needs.