HomeNewsBill Lee tours Middle Fork Bottoms park

Bill Lee tours Middle Fork Bottoms park

Gov. Bill Lee was in town on Friday as he was on a tour across the state to discuss conservation of natural areas and resources across the state.

His tour included stopping at a couple of brown fields, areas where there’s been a large amount of toxic waste dumping for years that have since begun to be cleaned up. He checked on the progress of those areas.

He also checked on the progress of Middle Fork Bottoms, the park that’s been under development by the West Tennessee River Basin Authority on the northern end of Madison County just south of Three Way.

The stop at Middle Fork Bottoms was a chance to look at the investment the state of Tennessee has made in that area.

It’s more than 800 acres with more than five miles of paved walking and riding trails. It has multiple artificial ponds on it that are stocked with fish and deep enough for paddle boating.

The trails also lead to a wilderness observation area on the south end of the park, just south of that branch of the Forked Deer River.

“Natural areas like this are so important to the people of Tennessee across the state, and it’s great to see a brand new one like this on the ground floor,” Lee said after taking a golf cart ride around about half the park and talking with local officials about the progress that’s been made and the plans for future work.

He also talked about how important it is to make sure to maintain natural areas as much as possible for the purposes of simply leaving areas like Middle Fork Bottoms for the enjoyment of the next generations coming up.

“I know I enjoyed being outdoors growing up and much of my adult life, and we need to leave that opportunity behind for our children and their children too,” Lee said. “Providing places like this accomplishes that for us.”

While Lee was in town, West Tennessee River Basin Authority Director David Blackwood and David Salyers, the state commissioner for the Department of Environment and Conservation, announced Michael Champagne as the first director of Middle Fork Bottoms Park.

Champagne has experience in parks locally as most of his career has been spent in parks in West Tennessee, most recently at Pinson Mounds State Park on the southern end of the county.

“I’m excited to take on this role,” Champagne said. “When I heard about this park being developed, I thought it would be cool to be the first person to be the director over it to oversee its beginnings, but I didn’t think then that I would get to be that person.

“It’s kind of surreal now to think I get to be that guy. But we’re looking forward to making this the best place it can be for the people who live here locally and those who will travel here to enjoy nature.”

Brandon Shields, brandon@jacksonpost.news

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