A new project slated for East Tennessee was announced at the annual Legacy Parks Luncheon on Friday, September 29, 2023. A 20-mile river trail will be created on the French Broad River starting at Seven Islands State Birding Park and ending in Downtown Knoxville. Three accessible BoardSafe Docks kayak launches are already designed and approved and will be installed along the water trail beginning at Seven Islands, heading downriver to Cruze Landing and Asbury Landing, which will create access and exit points with 5- to 7-mile intervals. Future launches will be designed and developed until the 20-mile stretch is fully accessible and reaches downtown Knoxville. These access points will create a truly adaptive and complete paddling experience for all. The accessible water trail will be the first of its kind in the state, and stakeholders are hoping it will be the first of many.
“This project is really a partnership of TVA, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, Legacy Parks, Tennessee State Parks, City of Knoxville, and Knox County. There are a lot of stakeholders involved and the planning takes a little bit of time. Everybody sort of shares the value of getting people on the river. So, it’s a great project,” said Carol Evans, Executive Director of the Legacy Parks Foundation.
Hospitality and heritage bring hundreds of thousands of tourists to the Tennessee River and its tributaries each summer. People are attracted to the region for its different activities: biking, paddling, camping, hiking, sightseeing, and enjoying its history. As a result of this foundation’s efforts, visitors hindered by age, experience, mobility, or disability will be able to paddle down the river. The Legacy Parks Foundation ensures all people, including those with physical disabilities, are welcome to participate and have access to East Tennessee’s river and recreational sites. Legacy Park’s creative plan will offer accessibility to all who visit the water trails and their surrounding parks. Accessible water trails will improve the quality of life for residents and those who visit the great state of Tennessee.
Paddling events build inclusive communities and improve quality of life
As the corridor strives to better accommodate all visitors, many local leaders have recognized the popularity of paddling and the need to provide safe and convenient access into and out of the water. BoardSafe Docks manufactures a well-known inclusive adaptive kayak launch that allows people in wheelchairs to safely transition into their kayak and out on the water. The launch system has been designed and engineered with specific adaptive features to improve the paddling experience for all users and ensure that family and friends can paddle together.
According to a report published by Statista Research Department, from 2010–2021, kayaking participation in the United States grew by 87.3 percent. Nearly 18.6 million Americans went kayaking at least once in 2021.
Until recently, no one fully understood the economic benefits of investing in and improving water access sites. However, we are now learning more about the economic, recreational, and environmental impacts.
The Outdoor Recreation Economy Report identifies outdoor recreation as one of our nation’s largest economic sectors. According to this report, outdoor recreation generates $887 billion in consumer spending annually, 7.6 million American jobs, $65.3 billion in federal tax revenue, and $59.2 billion in state and local tax revenue.
Benefits of creating more access points to our rivers
The planning and creation of water access points accessible to all provide a wide range of benefits to local communities. Why? Because people of all abilities are hooked on paddle sports. When you step into a kayak and take those first few paddle strokes, nature surrounds you. It’s easy to understand how nature’s draw pulls people to the water.
Paddling and kayak fishing have become everyone’s favorite hobbies and sought-after forms of outdoor recreation. Kayaking is an inclusive activity that offers adaptive paddlers the opportunity to be out on the water like everyone else.
The economic impact of parks and rivers
Parks and rivers have become powerful economic drivers for communities. Policymakers, elected officials, and parks and recreation professionals have noticed and understand how investments made in local and regional parks are improving the standard of living for their communities. The positive impact of parks on Tennessee’s economy is shown in a research study completed by the National Recreation and Parks Association.
Inclusive waterways encourage economic renewal
Three out of every four Americans participate in outdoor recreation each year, and paddlesports are among the fastest-growing segments of the industry. Legacy Parks’ planning for accessible recreation is positively impacting visitation along East Tennessee’s waterways, bringing along opportunities for economic renewal and growth.
Tourism and paddling on the Tennessee River
Tennessee is one of the top travel destinations in the U.S. because of its tremendous assets; scenic beauty, diverse cities and small towns, world-class attractions, music, culture, and history. A report prepared by the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development indicates that in 2021, Tennessee experienced record levels of tourism growth.
Tennessee Tourism Outperforms the Nation With Record $24 Billion in Domestic Travel Spending in 2021 Key information for the Department of Tourism can be broken down by county and viewed here: Interactive Data | Tennessee Vacation Industry.
Accessible to all BoardSafe Adaptive Kayak Launches on the French Broad River
There is a host of benefits that come from launching more paddling options in our communities. Increases in property values, tourism, and recreation-related spending are just a few ways that inclusive water trails positively affect communities and the local economy. Paddling also encourages good stewardship of parks, natural resources, and riverside land. Enjoyment and protection of our waterways are valuable investments for our communities and their future, making East Tennessee a great place to live, work, and visit.
Whether paddling, tubing, casting a line, or sitting along the riverbanks watching the birds, a day on the river is good for everyone and is welcoming and life-changing when the trails offer accessibility. Supporting Legacy Parks’ efforts helps preserve the past, enrich the present, and provide a precious gift for future generations to enjoy. It allows the Legacy Parks Foundation to continue to make an impact by providing accessibility to all. To learn more about The Legacy Parks Foundation, their projects, and what they’ve contributed to Knox County and surrounding communities, visit their website: About Us – Legacy Parks Foundation.
There are many ways to support Legacy Parks in their efforts to preserve natural resources and connect communities in East Tennessee. To become a friend and talk about planned giving or providing gifts of land or trail easements, click here: How to Help – Legacy Parks Foundation.
BoardSafe Docks understands the impact accessible water trails offer to their users and their communities. To discuss your project’s vision and learn more about BoardSafe Docks, our Adaptive Kayak Launch and Fishing Pier, its durable construction, and the long-term value it will bring to your community, please call us at 610-899-0286 or contact us through our website at BoardSafeDocks.com.