At last Saturday’s Friends of South Cumberland State Park annual meeting, Dr. Wallace Bigbee of McMinnville and Ty Burnette of Monteagle were awarded the Jim Prince Award. This award is given annually in memory of a founder of the Friends and early leader and role model. It is the Friends highest award, and is given to those persons who most exemplify leadership in outdoor conservation for the region encompassed by the South Cumberland State Recreation Area.
Dr. Bigbee was founder and longtime president of the Savage Gulf Preservation League, a citizens group organized to support the purchase of Savage Gulf by the State of Tennessee for designation as a State Natural Area. The Nature Conservancy and Huber Lumber Company helped by making the acquisition of adjacent Collins and Big Creek gulfs possible. Subsequently, the SGPL acquired land for a parking lot at the Greeter Falls trailhead. The Savage Gulf State Natural Area, created in 1974, consists of the three five-mile gulfs — Savage, Collins, and Big Creek — plus adjacent bluff land.
Dr. Bigbee has remained active in conservation work, serving on the Tennessee Conservation Commission and the Commissioners Council on Greenways and Trails. He has helped build trail on three sections of the Cumberland Trail and has helped in maintaining trails in South Cumberland Recreational Area, Rock Island State Park, and on Cardwell Mountain.
Ty Burnette has served as president of the Friends of South Cumberland for four years. During his tenure, the Friends acquired additional acreage around the Savage Gulf, at Foster Falls, and at Carter State Natural Area. The Friends also initiated a chapter of the Tennessee Naturalist Program and has been a sponsor of Camp Discover, a 2-week day camp at Tracy City Elementary School. Under his leadership, Trails and Trilliums has grown, the outreach to Grundy County schools has expanded now to include all fourth and fifth graders, and the back the Ranger volunteer program was initiated. For more information about the Friends of South Cumberland, please see www.friendsofscsra.org/