Ken Yager: No need to go far for relaxation

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Best Tennessee has to offer can be found in state parks close to home

12th District State Senator
There is a state park within an hour’s drive of just about anywhere in Tennessee. 
Several of these state parks are located in the 12th Senatorial District, including Indian Mountain in Jellico, Cove Lake in Caryville, Frozen Head in Wartburg, Norris Dam in Lake City, Cumberland Trail in Caryville and Pickett in Jamestown, as well as the Alvin C. York Historic Park in Pall Mall. 
In fact, the 12th District may have more state parks located in it than any other.
As I have traveled the district, I can attest to the fact that these state parks are among finest in the nation. 
Whether you want to stay in a cabin, lodge, or camp, or enjoy a vast array of outdoor activities, they are Tennessee treasures in our own backyard. 
There is something for everyone to enjoy and provide opportunities for free or low cost family-friendly entertainment.
For the past year, Tennessee’s 54 state parks have celebrated their 75th anniversary. 
The first state parks were established through legislation in 1937 as a result of work done by the Civilian Conservation Corps. 
The CCCs provided work and vocational training for unemployed Tennesseans after the Great Depression through conserving and developing the country’s natural resources. 
In our district, Pickett, Norris Dam and Cove Lake state parks were among the 17 state parks in Tennessee where the CCC’s efforts can still be enjoyed today.
The defunct agency’s work continues to stand the test of time as a monument to the era which ushered in the “greatest generation.”  
A monument to the CCC “boys” was recently unveiled at Pickett State Park. 
I was honored to meet some of these men, decades after the CCC was dismantled.
Besides serving as a great place for our citizens to enjoy, our state parks also have a huge economic impact on Tennessee, especially in our rural areas. 
According to a University of Tennessee study, for every dollar spent on trips to Tennessee State Parks, an additional $1.11 of economic activity was generated throughout the state. 
When the direct and indirect expenditures were combined, the impact of Tennessee State Parks to the state’s economy was $1.5 billion in total industry output, supporting more than 18,600 jobs.
Please take the opportunity to look at the Tennessee State Park website to plan your next trip, whether it is for a day or a week. 
This website often offers discounts and will provide you with a roadmap of activities you may want to consider. It is at www.tn.gov/environment/parks.
You may also reserve a room or camping spot online.
To learn more about volunteer opportunities at our parks you can visit http://www.tn.gov/environment/parks/volunteer. 
Our state parks are treasures.
They not only draw tourists to Tennessee, but give our citizens the opportunity to enjoy outdoor activities and Tennessee’s rich beauty without having to drive hundreds of miles from home.
We must continue to maintain and enhance them for future generations of Tennesseans to enjoy. 
Ken Yager, formerly a longtime county executive for Roane, is state senator for Tennessee’s 12th District in East Tennessee.