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For immediate release September 19, 2003


LA GRANGE, Tenn. -- Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation Commissioner Betsy L. Child and Deputy Commissioner for Environment Karen Stachowski today announced the opening of a new boardwalk and trail at the Ghost River State Natural Area and Wildlife Management Area near La Grange, Tenn. The Mineral Slough Boardwalk, a 560-foot boardwalk that winds through bald cypress and water tupelo forests of Mineral Slough, is part of the new Winbon B. Cowan Trail. The trail will be a 1-mile loop once the second phase is completed.

"The Ghost River State Natural Area and Wolf River Wildlife Management Area represents what can be done when private citizens and organizations partner with the state to accomplish common goals," said Child. "This is an excellent example of public/private partnerships focused on locally driven initiatives. This should serve as a model for others across Tennessee and throughout the country."

The boardwalk was made possible through private funds raised by Mrs. Eileen Cowan, a citizen of District 13 in Fayette County, funds raised by the Wolf River Conservancy and a Federal Highway Administration grant administered through the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation.

"In this time of fiscal restraint at all levels of government, this project would not have become a reality without the dedication and financial support of the citizens of La Grange and the Wolf River Conservancy," added Stachowski. "Your fundraising efforts are sincerely appreciated."

In conjunction with National Public Lands Day celebrated nationwide on Saturday, September 20, a ribbon cutting ceremony will be held at the boardwalk beginning at 10 a.m. Joining Stachowski for the ribbon cutting ceremony will be La Grange Mayor Bill Cowan, the Wolf River Conservancy's Board Member Michael Jones and Tennessee Wildlife Resources Commission member Bill Cox. The official opening of the boardwalk will be marked with the ribbon cutting by Elizabeth Cowan Shackleford, daughter of Winbon Cowan and Larry Smith, past executive director of the Wolf River Conservancy. Stachowski will recognize the fund raising efforts of Mrs. Eileen Cowan by presenting her with a 2003 Governor's Greenways and Trails Award.

"This is an extremely momentous occasion for me, in that the trail is being dedicated to my grandfather," said Mayor Cowan. "The trail and boardwalk will have a very positive influence on the town of La Grange."

The Wolf River Conservancy, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting and preserving the Wolf River, has been instrumental in raising public awareness and support for the restoration and conservation of the river from its headwaters in the Holly Springs National Forest in north Mississippi to its confluence with the Mississippi River.

"The Ghost River State Natural Area has one of the finest wetland canoe trails in the nation," said Gary Bridgman, president of the Wolf River Conservancy. "Now the boardwalk will give many more people easy walking access to the crown jewel of the Wolf River Greenway."

"Tennessee has many fabulous natural places and if we never see some of those places, we don't know they exist," said Gary Myers, executive director of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. "This boardwalk and trail makes it possible for people to get to know the Ghost River, a special place we need to care about and preserve for generations of Tennesseans to enjoy."

The Mineral Slough Boardwalk and Winbon B. Cowan Trail will be open daily, and is accessible from Yeagar Road just south of La Grange. For more information, contact the State Natural Areas program at 615-532-0434 or visit our Web site at




For more information contact:

Amanda Sluss,
Public Information Officer
Tennessee Department of
Environment and Conservation
401 Church Street, 20th Floor, L&C Tower
Nashville, TN 37243
(615) 532-0288 (office)
1-877-251-2956 (pager)
(615) 532-0740 (fax)



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