Tennessee is so green and lush. Tennessee is our Eden. As we stand here together today by the banks of beautiful Blackburn Fork River, we are thankful. Thankful to God. Thankful for this community who came together to conserve this place of wonder and magic. And thankful to you Governor Haslam. You are here at a crucial time for Cummins Falls and for Tennessee and we are grateful.
Tennessee’s garden is bountiful – we’re river rich. We have seven of the top eight most biologically-diverse rivers in America. (That means our rivers have a lot of critters in them.) Tennessee has more species of trees than throughout all of Europe. Crossed with scenic back roads, blessed with abundant wildlife and dotted with more caves than any other state in North America. Waterfalls and wildflowers, dragonflies and fireflies to give magic to the night.
But we know that competing demands threaten our homeland. So… we are thankful that you Governor Haslam know that what is good for the environment is also good for the economy. We are thankful for your support of funds for a Forever Green Tennessee.
Conserving Tennessee provides raw materials for undiscovered medicines, for crops, timbers, fibers, soil-restoring vegetation, petroleum substitutes, and other products – and this gives our grandchildren the same economic opportunities that we’ve enjoyed.
A healthy population needs outdoor recreation and the tonic that wilderness provides.
People will visit and business will move to Tennessee of its quality of life … its parks, wildlife and greenways.
Tennessee’s economy depends on tourism. Tourism is the second largest industry in Tennessee, employing 184,000 and generating $14 Billion in economic return.
And Parks are our most visited attractions. For every $1 invested in state parks, Tennessee gets back $37! That’s a great pay-off for doing something that is so beneficial in so many ways. Brock Hill knows it and that is why he is working so hard and doing a great job to make our parks environmentally sensitive and attractive for visitors.
And increased tourism will more than justify the additional rangers or wildlife officers that new destinations will need.
Plus, our economy and environmental health both require sustainable, abundant natural resources for pollination, agriculture, cleaner drinking water, renewable resources and the very air we breathe. Conserving corridors of forests along rivers and ridges is the best way to save the best Tennessee has to offer.
Tennesseans understand this across party lines – when asked 76% of republicans and 82% of democrats support conservation. So Governor Haslam, please know that Tennesseans will support you in every good thing you do to conserve our homeland.
We have all we need in Tennessee to live -- wild species and conserved land for our food, water and air. And we need the sustenance provided by the beauty of a waterfall – Cummins Falls is the 8th largest waterfall in Tennessee and arguably the most beautiful. People will come and will be blessed by these good tidings. They’ll swim, paint, be baptised, have an adventure with their kids, fish, exercise their body and spirit. We thank you Governor Haslam for this gift to Tennessee today and for our grandchildren. We thank you all for making this possible.