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Turning something old into something new: Trail at T.O. Fuller State Park created with dumped tires

The trail is more than 2.5 miles long and made from rubber crumbs made from old tires. Officials said it is one of the longest rubber-bearing trails in the U.S.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — There’s a new walking and biking trail in the Mid-South, made completely from recycled tires.

Leaders from Tennessee State Parks, the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT), and Memphis and Shelby County cut the ribbon Friday on the new hard-surface trail at T.O. Fuller State Park.

It’s more than 2.5 miles long and made from rubber crumbs made from old tires. Officials said it is one of the longest rubber-bearing trails in the U.S.

The creators said volunteers and contractors gathered more than 24,000 dumped tires - including passenger, commercial truck and heavy equipment tires - which had been illegally dumped around the park. The cleanup had 450 registered volunteers and 10,000 of those tires collected in one day.

The tires were then turned into crumbs by Patriot Tire Recycling in Bristol. After being turned into crumbs, the materials were brought back to the park to make the new trail.

The project was paid for by a Tire Environmental Act Program grant of $250,000 from TDEC’s Office of Policy and Sustainable Practices, a special litter grant of $200,000 from TDOT, and a Federal Highway-Recreational Trails Program grant of $280,000 from TDEC’s Division of Recreation Resources.

Credit: WATN
T.O. Fuller State Park walking and biking trail

“This is a quintessential example of recycling in full circle, collecting dumped material then converting it into positive use,” said David Salyers, commissioner of 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.”

“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,” said TDOT Interim Commissioner Joseph Galbato, III. “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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