KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The Tennessee RiverLine Project officially launched Friday at Knoxville’s Suttree Landing Park with speeches from state leaders and a dedication of 60 kayaks.
Organizers call the Tennessee RiverLine Project, “North America’s next great regional trail system,” with a vision for a 652-mile system of continuous paddling, hiking and biking trail experiences reaching the full length of the Tennessee River, from Knoxville to Paducah, Kentucky.
The Tennessee River stretches 652 miles and touches four states: Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, and Kentucky.
Since the initiative was founded in the University of Tennessee College of Architecture and Design’s School of Landscape Architecture in 2016, the Tennessee RiverLine has made significant progress with research, outreach and programming, organizers said.
Friday’s event launches the public phase of the vision with celebratory remarks from UT Chancellor Donde Plowman, Tennessee Valley Authority Vice President of River and Resources Stewardship David Bowling, and state and local officials. Five fleets of kayaks, 60 in all, were dedicated to benefit citizens in river communities in three states involved with the Tennessee RiverLine.
“By actively partnering with 15 river communities through its Tennessee RiverTowns Program, the regional initiative now is making tangible impacts by providing equipment, design and support for public events and grants to overcome barriers to river access and accelerate infrastructure investments,” organizers said in a press release.
The initiative welcomed 15 communities in October, representing 35 cities and counties and 836,000 citizens, as members of the inaugural Tennessee RiverTowns Program cohort.
Tennessee Valley Authority said the network will give each River Town an opportunity to showcase all they have to offer like off-the-map attractions, one-of-a kind restaurants and more. More than 2.4 million people live in communities along the Tennessee River.
Principal partners in the project are University of Tennessee, Knoxville and the Tennessee Valley Authority. While the project remains in its early stages, the Tennessee RiverLine Project released its 2020 report detailing what has been accomplished through the initiative and what could be possible if it is fully realized.