The possibility of Virgin Falls becoming a state park offers more than just natural beauty and recreational opportunity.
Chamber of Commerce President Marvin Bullock said with the declaration, White County and Sparta will have a national draw for tourism.
“It really does need to grow to a state park status,” Bullock said. “Get its own budget, and its own identity. And that is going to help the entire Upper Cumberland when you get rural class features like that that are attracting trail runners from all over the globe and hikers from all over the United States.”
Bullock said all state parks are included in Tennessee public land publications. This exposure will lead to more sales tax revenue and in turn, decrease property tax, Bullock said.
“Right now for instance, if you look at the state travel map, I believe it just says Virgin Falls S.N.A. So, state natural area,” Bullock said. “Most people traveling cross country don’t recognize a S.N.A as something they can go visit. The notoriety increases dramatically.”
Bullock said the Virgin Falls State Natural Area has the features worth state recognition. It is home to five falls with four of them having no out going stream at the bottom.
“I’ve never seen that anomaly anywhere else,” Bullock said. “We got four of those in roughly a five mile stretch. Then, there is the beautiful overlooks like Martha’s Pretty Point, Rattlesnake Point and of course, Welch’s Point.”
One rock overlook is so large that the White County Courthouse can fit under it, Bullock said. If pass, Bullock said the recognition will add to an already growing community.
“In the last six years, we have gone from one of the five of 95 counties that had a decrease in tourism to in the top 10 of the 95 counties for an increase in tourism,” Bullock said.
Virgin Falls State Natural Area is currently ran by Fall Creek Falls. Bullock said becoming a state park would give the location its own budget and operations. The White County Commission has sent a resolution to the General Assembly requesting for state park recognition.