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Legacy Parks Signs First Natural Shores Easement

Legacy Parks Foundation has announced its first Natural Shores Easement on Old French Road along the French Broad River. Landowners Cathy Murphy and John Manuel signed the easement this week, agreeing to permanently protect the shoreline of their riverfront property.

The Foundation’s Natural Shores Project – a voluntary shoreline protection program – was created to promote and preserve the health and natural beauty of the French Broad River from Seven Islands State Birding Park to the Head of the Tennessee River. The goal is to assure that the French Broad River can be enjoyed by generations to come.

The Murphy farm has longstanding Knoxville and family ties. It was originally acquired in 1883 by George Rule, first cousin to former Knoxville mayor William Rule. George and his wife, Maria Monday, raised their nine children in a house situated on the highest point of the farm overlooking the river below. They were full-time farmers, and Mrs. Rule regularly took her butter, eggs, and live chickens to the Market House (now Market Square) in downtown Knoxville. The farm was passed down to their daughter, Jane Rule Murphy, and remains in the family to this day, now owned by Jane’s granddaughter, Cathy Murphy of Durham, North Carolina.

“Both John and I grew up on the shores of a river or lake. Seeing the wildlife that gathered there and being able to access the water for recreational purposes was one of the joys of our childhoods,” said Murphy. “We want to be a part of preserving the health and natural beauty of the French Broad River for everyone’s enjoyment.”

The French Broad River is the third oldest in the world. For centuries, it has been one of East Tennessee’s most valuable resources – from its use by Native Americans for hunting, trade, and travel to the farming and recreational opportunities it presents us today.

Protection of the French Broad River’s shoreline is critical to maintain the natural beauty and rural character of the river corridor, increase vegetation along the shoreline, improve water quality and natural habitats, and to help maintain the historical and cultural assets of the river corridor.

Landowners participating in the program will voluntarily protect a minimum of 50 feet of shoreline property by agreeing not to construct large structures and minimize disturbance of soil, trees or natural vegetation. Landowners are also encouraged to plant native trees and plants along the shoreline to create natural areas in which animals move, survive, and feed. Participation in the Natural Shores project does not make the property open to the public. The initiative is strictly a shoreline protection program, not a park project.

To learn more about the resources available to landowners to help protect and maintain shorelines, contact Carol Evans at (865) 525-2585 or

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