Tennessee Honors Mack S. Prichard

The Dedication of Cummins Falls Visitor Center and a Celebration of Life are planned in honor of Mack S. Prichard, Tennessee State Naturalist, Emeritus. This event will take place on Friday, October 22, 12:30 p.m. at Cummins Falls State Park. Cummins Falls is the last state park Prichard, along with TennGreen and numerous volunteers, helped the State of Tennessee acquire for conservation. The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) has named the new Visitor Center after Prichard.

Mack S. Prichard worked for the State of Tennessee for over fifty years. In 1971 he was appointed as the first state archaeologist, then as the first state naturalist – a position he held for three decades. During his career, Prichard worked with eight governors to engage their participation in funding conservation efforts.

He was well-known and well-loved by many across the state. In his quest to find pristine properties that could be conserved rather than developed, he explored numerous sites and natural areas. He frequently invited friends, co-workers and family to tag along for the hikes. Swimming at a beautiful waterfall was frequently the reward for a difficult hike.

Out of a total of fifty-six state parks, Mack was instrumental in facilitating the acquisition of approximately twenty-four sites that became state parks, plus many other properties that were established as natural areas.

Prichard encouraged landowners to donate or sell properties to the state rather than to develop them. He started and participated in many Tennessee State Park Friend’s Groups to help establish grassroots efforts at raising money to help purchase properties for parks and conservation. His efforts have preserved many properties across Tennessee for tourists and locals to frequent and enjoy rather than being closed for private development. Prichard’s goal was to assure that enough acres were set aside for recreation. He wrote in a newsletter in 1964, “Where people cannot gain adequate release from their work in wholesome play and diversion, there is tension, hostility and conflict.” He continued to say, “No society can long endure internal stress.” Prichard understood that people need nature. He spent a lifetime to assure that enough acres were set aside in Tennessee to provide respite for all who need it. Prichard’s vision of establishing beautiful and pristine sites for conservation has spread to many others, as apparent by the growing number of acres in Tennessee set aside for conservation.

Throughout his career, Prichard traveled over a million miles back and forth across Tennessee to show slides, present programs and share the diversity that is abundant in our beautiful state. His extensive slide collection includes wildlife, flowers, birds, numerous waterfalls and photos of many of the people he met over the years. Prichard mentored many individuals, challenging them to join in his vision, encouraging their love of nature, and providing opportunities for their involvement in conservation. He was instrumental in forming the vibrant state park networks of people and places that so many of us enjoy today.

You are invited to celebrate Mack Prichard’s life and achievements with friends, co-workers and family.

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