MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has renamed a state park in honor of U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander.
The former Rocky Fork State Park in Flag Pond, Tennessee is now the Lamar Alexander Rocky Fork State Park. The park is 10,000 acres of mountainous land with elevations up to 4,800 feet.
“Senator Alexander has spent a lifetime serving Tennesseans and promoting Tennessee to the world,” Haslam said. “He loves the state from Memphis to Mountain City. His roots are in East Tennessee, and it is fitting that this special place in this special state bears his name. Tennessee’s state parks are indebted to him and his service both as governor and as senator, and visitors to this state park will be reminded of his work every time they visit.”
In 2006, Alexander helped secure more than $30 million to purchase the land and add it to the Cherokee National Forrest so it would permanently be available for public use. Haslam then announced in 2012 that it would become Tennessee’s 55th state park, which opened in September 2015.
“I am grateful for this unexpected and thoughtful gesture by Governor Haslam,” Alexander said. “Rocky Fork is a treasure in one of the most beautiful sections of our country. It is Upper East Tennessee’s ‘Gateway to the Appalachian Trail.’ Because of its natural beauty and high elevations, it should soon be one of our state’s most popular parks. Living in the foothills of the Smokies, I have seen how a popular park can provide outdoor experiences for Tennesseans and also attract tourism, jobs and tax dollars to adjacent counties."
Alexander recently announced he will not seek re-election in 2020. He has held his U.S. Senate seat since 2003 after previously serving as U.S. Secretary of Education, president of the University of Tennessee and Tennessee governor.