Lecture series highlights Nashville’s environmental efforts
The Institute for Sustainable Practice’s new lecture series sheds light on Tennessee’s Land Trust and the protection of our state parks.
The Sustainability Leadership Lecture Series started Feb. 16 in the Axel Swang Business Building with the first panel addressing land and parks in Tennessee. This discussion is the first of 11 on the topic of “The Conservation Legacy of the Bredesen Administration.”
The three panelists, who worked directly on the project, came from very different backgrounds but brought their expertise. Their efforts earned the Gold Medal Award in 2007, naming Tennessee State Parks the best in the nation.
When Gov. Phil Bredesen took office in 2003, 14 state parks had been closed to the public. Within the year, he opened them all back up and made them free access. Environment and Conservation Commissioner Jim Fyke and his wife even visited all 53 parks in the state that same year.
Fyke pointed out that the governor secured local parks Shelby Bottoms and Beamon Park. His efforts also acquired Grassmere, saving the Nashville Zoo.
“He doubled what Nashville had,” Fyke said.
There are now 108 public parks in the Nashville area. The closest to Lipscomb’s campus is Radnor Lake, with six trails surrounding the lake.
Environmentalist John Noel is working on the project as well.
“Tennessee is the most biologically diverse inland state,” said Noel.
Noel stressed the importance of taking care of our planet and using natural energy. Noel referenced Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring as a motivator for the government’s responsibility to the environment. The 1962 book is credited with starting the “green” movement and led to the ban of the synthetic pesticide DDT in 1972 in the United States.
The Land Trust project has made $117 million in conservation purchases. Land Trust Executive Director Jeanie Nelson has overseen the purchase of over 50,000 acres of natural and historic landscapes.
She came to the project from Washington D.C., bringing practical politics and a personal touch. She stressed the importance of protecting historic land with concern for the local population.
“The love of land is something we all have in common,” Nelson said.
It was unanimous from the entire panel that the main strength of Gov. Bresden was his apolitical attitude toward the project.
“He never allowed science to be trumped by politics,” Noel said.
One audience member reminded the audience of Breseden’s triple bottom line: planet, people, and profit all working together.
The focus of the series is to highlight Governor Bredesen’s environmental concerns during his administration. His idea was that land was at the core of the issue, so he worked through the Land Trust to obtain and protect as much undeveloped land in Tennessee that he could.
The lecture series is a call to the community to hold the state administration accountable for environmental conservation. The next lecture will be March 23 and will address the Tennessee Sustainable Tourism initiative.