The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) will host the Greenways and Trails Forum at Montgomery Bell State Park on May 3-5. This bi-annual event is a three-day educational workshop and networking conference for parks and recreation professionals, local officials and aspiring outdoor recreation professionals.


Hosted by TDEC’s Recreation Educational Services Division and the Commissioner’s Council on Greenways and Trails, this year’s conference theme is “Tennessee Trails: A Community’s Pathway to Health, Happiness and Prosperity.” Forum sessions will highlight the impact of greenways and trails in communities and their role in uniting citizens, improving health and combating obesity; promoting economic development and tourism; providing alternative transportation opportunities; and connecting people to nature.


“The Forum is an excellent information sharing and networking event for park and recreational professionals and others with an interest in and passion for the outdoors,” said TDEC’s Recreational Educational Services Division Director Gerald Parish. “For those new to this field or professionals who have worked in the outdoors for decades, this opportunity isn’t to be missed.”


Tennessee State Naturalist, Randy Hedgepath, is slated as the featured speaker on May 4. Hedgepath has more than 30 years of experience with Tennessee State Parks as a Ranger Naturalist at South Cumberland and Radnor Lake State Parks. He was appointed State Naturalist in 2007 and received the Governor’s Excellence in Service Award in 2016. A graduate of UT-Martin and former National Park Service Interpretive Specialist, Hedgepath is one of the most sought after interpretive specialists in the southeastern United States.


The keynote speaker will be Charles A. “Chuck” Flink, President of Greenways Inc., an international consulting firm based in North Carolina. Flink is widely regarded as one of America’s leading greenway planners, having completed comprehensive greenway, trail and open space plans for more than 250 communities within 36 states. He has also been a consultant to clients in Argentina, Belarus, Brazil, Canada, China, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Japan. Flink is a fellow in the American Society of Landscape Architects Council of Fellows and is the 2006 Distinguished Alumnus of the College of Design at North Carolina State University.


Advanced registration received prior to April 24 is $99. Registration received after April 24 is $125. Students receive a special $25 rate with a current student ID. Registration fees include admission to all forum sessions, educational workshops and tours, opening networking event with sponsors, keynote speaker lunch, featured speaker dinner. Continuing Education Units are available. To register for the forum, visit


For hotel accommodations, conference attendees can receive a rate of $77 (excluding tax) at Montgomery Bell State Park Inn by calling (615) 797-3101 by April 3 and mentioning Tennessee Greenways and Trails Forum or Group # 7989.


More information on the 2017 Tennessee Greenways and Trails Forum, including a link to the draft agenda, can be found at