Knox County’s Seven Islands State Birding Park now has a new and improved public boat launch on the south side of the French Broad River thanks to a unique partnership between Legacy Parks Foundation, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, Tennessee State Parks, TVA, and Knox County.
The ribbon cutting at Mutton Hollow Landing on November 18 was part of an initiative to increase public access to rivers and promote the state’s “blueways” or river trails. Tennessee now boasts 20 blueways connecting people, parks, and communities by waterway.
“Water trails, like greenways, give people an opportunity to get out an enjoy nature,” said Jane Polansky, Tennessee State Scenic Rivers Administrator. “Since 2009 we’ve been able to connect seven state parks to blueways,” she added.
The refurbished road, parking area, and boat launch at Mutton Hollow is located on 40 acres of Seven Islands State Birding Park on the southern side of the French Broad River. TVA provided the funding for the environmental review and materials and Knox County employees provided the labor.
“This project is an example of successful partnerships across multiple organizations with a singular goal – to improve access to our beautiful natural resources,” said Rebecca Tolene, Vice President of Natural Resources for TVA. “And our state park system, like TVA land along the river system, provides the public with opportunities to experience nature first hand,” she added.
Creating more access to Knoxville’s three rivers is a Legacy Parks Foundation priority for 2016. Carol Evans, Executive Director, said they are currently working with TVA and the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency to develop additional launch locations along the Holston and Tennessee rivers.
Allen Gillespie, owner of 3 Rivers Angler, was excited to be the first to use the launch to get out on the river as soon as officials cut the ribbon.