Tennessee State Park Turns 24,000 Illegally Dumped Tires Into New Walking and Biking Trail

It is one of the longest rubber-bearing trails in the U.S.

One man's trash is quite literally another man's treasure at a Tennessee state park.

Earlier this month, state and local leaders unveiled a special new 2.5-mile walking and biking trail at T.O. Fuller State Park in Memphis. Made from rubber crumbs derived from tires, it is one of the longest rubber-bearing trails in the U.S.

Since 2019, volunteers and local contractors collected 24,000 tires that had been illegally dumped in the area around the park. Patriot Tire Recycling in Bristol transformed the tires into small crumbs, which were then brought back to the park for construction of a new loop trail to replace an overgrown path.

Ribbon-cutting_Tires to Trails_T.O. Fuller_June 2022
Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation

"This is a quintessential example of recycling in full circle, collecting dumped material then converting it into positive use," David Salyers, commissioner of Tennessee Department of Environment & Conservation (TDEC), said in a news release. "It's exactly the kind of responsible environmental activity Tennesseans can be proud of, where an area can be cleaned up then have people enjoy the benefits in a new way."

The $730,000 project was funded by a Tire Environmental Act Program grant from TDEC's Office of Policy and Sustainable Practices, a special litter grant from Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT), and a Federal Highway-Recreational Trails Program grant from TDEC's Division of Recreation Resources.

Tires to Trails at TO Fuller
Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation

"Litter and illegal dumping are costly and damaging to Tennessee. TDOT spends more than $19 million annually picking up litter and educating the public about the negative impacts," TDOT Interim Commissioner Joseph Galbato, III, said in a statement. "We are thankful for collaborative partnerships like the 'Tires to Trails' project which not only addresses the litter problem but turns it into a meaningful and positive long-lasting resource for the community."

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