Recreation Nation

The United States has had a long and varied relationship with outdoor recreation. As a nation of tough pioneers who carved civilization out of wilderness, it took some time for Americans to embrace the idea of holding onto the last pieces of undeveloped wild land rather than conquering them.

John Muir, founder of the Sierra Club, exhorted the nation in the 1880s to spend time in the mountains and valleys. “Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you,” he said. President Theodore Roosevelt, a sickly child who improved his health with an active outdoor life, also helped lead a new movement toward what we now call outdoor recreation in all its many forms./p>

TVA’s Lands, Lakes and Streams

Recreation wasn’t mentioned in the 1933 Congressional act that created TVA. But in January, 1940, President Franklin D. Roosevelt—Teddy’s cousin—made his famous “more than a power company” speech to Congress, directing TVA to look at comprehensive recreation planning for the Tennessee Valley.

“It is coming to be realized more and more that in the improvement of our American civilization we cannot stop at hospitals and schools any more than we can confine ourselves to strictly economic subjects. Recreation in its broad sense is a definite factor in the improvement of the bodies and minds of our future citizens.” – President Franklin D. Roosevelt on TVA, 1940

“So for the first time, recreation and TVA were linked, and we were off and running,” says Bucky Edmondson, director of TVA Natural Resources. “Of course, the war put a gap in that planning, but once it was over and troops came home, there was a real interest in the outdoors and recreation.”

At TVA, recreation areas generally fall into three categories: lake-based, such as fishing and boating; land-based, such as trails and campgrounds; and stream-access sites. Throughout the Valley, TVA manages 293,000 acres of public land and 11,000 miles of shoreline.

The Value of Recreation

Fishing, hiking, birdwatching and swimming were always enjoyable. But when did we realize they’re also incredibly valuable?

Seventy years ago, there was no need to discuss public access to waterways because all the residents of an area generally knew each other, so a person might simply go to his neighbor’s farm and ask if he could park there while he went fishing. But in the years after World War II, which saw increasing growth in metropolitan areas and the disappearance of thousands of acres of open farmland to development, the need arose for infrastructure that would provide reliable public access.

In 1960, Congress created the Outdoor Recreation Resources Review Commission, launching national surveys on recreation every few years. These provided a wealth of data that had never been gathered before and first exposed the enormous economic impact of recreation. After that, grant funds began coming to organizations to build public access infrastructure.

Now, leaders in federal, state and local government are fully aware of the crucial economic value that lakes, swim beaches, stream access sites, fishing spots, trails and campsites bring to the communities around them.

“World-Class Recreation” Right Here at Home

“We have world-class recreation here in the Valley,” says Clay Guerry, TVA recreation strategy specialist. “We have assets that are known beyond the borders of the United States. Just think about the Appalachian Trail, how much has been written about it. It crosses two of TVA’s dams, Fontana and Watauga. One of the best shelters on the trail, the ‘Fontana Hilton’, is on TVA land. The Ocoee whitewater, where the Olympics were held—everyone into whitewater knows the Ocoee. Trout fishermen all over the world know about South Holston. Bass fishing competitions—look at the international media coverage that comes out of that.”

However, enjoying the outdoors doesn’t require an expensive fly-fishing setup, a pricey mountain bike or kayak, or extensive physical strength and abilities. A large study a few years ago reveals that the most popular outdoor activities for Americans are still the simplest: walking, picnicking and just looking at the scenery.

“TVA offers ADA-accessible trails and areas throughout the Tennessee Valley,” adds Guerry. “One example is the new fishing area on the South Holston Dam Reservation that was popular as soon as it was finished. Places like these allow people of all physical abilities to join in the activities they enjoy.”

Grab a Bag! We Need You!

National Public Lands Day also provides an opportunity for everyone who enjoys the outdoors to take a little time to give back. Numerous cleanup events give participants — even little ones — a chance to leave public lands cleaner than they found them.

“Litter, especially disposable plastic, unfortunately is one of those things that we’ll always be fighting,” says Suzanne Fisher, TVA senior program manager who coordinates many volunteer efforts. “Part of our mission of stewardship is to work constantly at keeping public lands and waters clean. However, we can’t do it alone—it’s also an important part of our mission to recruit volunteers, to inspire youngsters to also care about the environment and to have them join us in that mission. We will always welcome every pair of hands—not just on special days, but all year round.”

Last year for NPLD, volunteers pitched in on public lands in all 50 states. At least 100,000 volunteers donated 450,000 hours to accomplish an estimated $11 million value of volunteer work. This year promises to be even bigger—and we invite you to be part of it.

Upcoming Events

The Big Sweep Cleanup, Haywood Waterways
Date: 9/18/2021
Time: 9:00 am-11:00 pm ET
Location: 550 Vance Street, Waynesville, NC 28786 plus 3 other locations
County:  Marshall, NC
Description: Join the Haywood Waterways for their annual cleanup
Contact: Christine O’Brien  [email protected] 

Cleanup for the Cranes
Date: 9/18/2021
Time: 8:00 am-11:00 pm CT
Location: 802-A Wilson Street, NW; Decatur, AL
County: Morgan, AL
Description: VOLUNTEER LIMIT IN BOAT: 8 + operator; REQUIRED TO BRING: MASK, BOTTLED WATER, CLOSED-TOED SHOES, PANTS RECOMMENDED TO WEAR: SUNBLOCK & BUG SPRAY. Must pre-register at https://www.keeptnriverbeautiful.org/decaturr, AL 10.11.20 — Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful (keeptnriverbeautiful.org)
Contact: [email protected]

Tennessee River Tournament
Date: 9/24/2021
Time: 8:00 am-12:00 pm CT
Location: McFarland Park; 110 W. College Street, Florence, AL
County: Colbert and Lauderdale, AL
Description: We’re joining the ‘Shoals Litter Cleanup,’ put on each year by Keep the Shoals Beautiful on Wilson Lake of Tennessee River. VOLUNTEER LIMIT IN BOAT: 8 + operator; REQUIRED TO BRING: MASK, BOTTLED WATER, CLOSED-TOED SHOES, PANTS RECOMMENDED TO WEAR: SUNBLOCK & BUG SPRAY. Must pre-register at Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful (keeptnriverbeautiful.org).
Contact: ka[email protected]

Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards Trail maintenance & debris collection
Date: 9/25/2021
Time: 9am-1pm
Location: Meet at Rock Creek Campground (https://goo.gl/maps/fYmm7cedixJ6igUH9). We’ll work on Rock Creek Trail, a trailhead that starts inside the campground.
County: Unicoi
Trail Mileage: 1.5 miles (3 miles round trip)
Description: Join us on National Public Lands Day, September 25th, to steward Unaka Mountain Wilderness’ favorite Rock Creek Trail! This popular mile-and-a-half trail (3 miles round trip) is a moderate to easy hike with four creek crossings that are easily rock hopped. The trail begins inside Rock Creek Campground and ends at the beautiful Rock Creek Falls. The day will consist of trail corridor brushing with loppers, de-limbing the corridor with hand saws, cleaning up trash and debris, as well as dismantling any fire rings we encounter along the way. Expect to hike, breath fresh air, enjoy nature, and steward some beautiful, wild public land. Be sure to plan ahead and prepare. Bring a backpack with plenty of water, personal snacks and wear comfortable clothing to work in. We recommend long pants and closed-toed shoes. Bring an extra layer for bugs or wind. Pack items that may make your day in the field more enjoyable such as a hat, sunscreen, bug spray, sunglasses, layers, hand sanitizer, extra socks, rain gear, personal first aid kit, etc. Bring any personal protective gear you may own such as mask, gloves, eye protection, or hard hats. SAWS will provide tools, extra personal protective equipment, safety circle, refreshments after the event, smiles, and fun!

Meet in the Rock Creek Campground parking lot for greetings, sign-in, and stretch circle. We’ll all walk to the trailhead together. SAWS will provide tools, extra personal protective equipment, a discussion on safety, and refreshments after the workday.
Additional information: Forest Service website: https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/cherokee/recarea/?recid=34988
Contact: Reach out to Kaitlin de Varona at [email protected] if you would like to sign up or if you have any questions. The event is capped at 9 volunteers. We are SO excited to get out in the field with you!

Nottely Lake Cleanup
Date: 9/25/2021
Time: 9:00 am ET
Location: Poteete Creek Campground Pavilion, 7686 Poteete Creek Road
Blairsville, GA 30512
County: Union, GA
Description: Join the Nottely Lake Improvement Association for their annual cleanup
Contact: Kemmy Garrett (828) 837-4553 or [email protected]

Loyston Point Trail Workday
Date: 9/25/21
Time: 9:00 am-12:00 pm ET
Location:  Loyston Point, 146-160 Lakeshore Dr, Andersonville, TN 37705 GPS Coordinates 36.27004, -83.9677
County: Union, TN
Description: Join the Appalachian Mountain Bike Club, REI, and TVA for trail maintenance. Bring water, snack, and wear closed-toe shoes and gloves. Lunch will be provided. Meet at the main trailhead parking lot.
Contact: Brian Ross (865) 632-1354 or [email protected]

Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful Month
Date: 10/1/2021
Time: 9:00 am-1:00 pm CT
Location: Guntersville
County: Jackson, AL
Description: Join in the kickoff of Keep the Tennessee River Watershed Beautiful Month in Alabama with a river cleanup made much bigger with our partners at Living Lands & Waters bringing their five 30-foot boats. We’ll also be partnering with Keep Alabama Beautiful and Keep Jackson County Beautiful on this cleanup of Guntersville Lake on the Tennessee River.

VOLUNTEER LIMIT IN BOAT: 8 + operator; REQUIRED TO BRING: MASK, BOTTLED WATER, CLOSED-TOED SHOES, PANTS RECOMMENDED TO WEAR: SUNBLOCK & BUG SPRAY. Must pre-register at Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful (keeptnriverbeautiful.org).
Contact: [email protected]

Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful Month
Date: 10/2/2021
Time: 10:00 am-2:00 pm ET
Location: Ten Mile, TN on Watts Bar
County: Roane, TN
Description: Join in the kickoff of Keep the Tennessee River Watershed Beautiful Month in Tennessee with a river cleanup made much bigger with our partners at Living Lands & Waters bringing their five 30-foot boats. We’ll also be partnering with Keep Tennessee Beautiful on this cleanup of Watts Bar Lake on the Tennessee River.

VOLUNTEER LIMIT IN BOAT: 8 + operator; REQUIRED TO BRING: MASK, BOTTLED WATER, CLOSED-TOED SHOES, PANTS RECOMMENDED TO WEAR: SUNBLOCK & BUG SPRAY. Must pre-register Ten Mile, TN 10.2.21 — Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful (keeptnriverbeautiful.org).
Contact: [email protected]

Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful Month
Date: 10/15/2021
Time: 12:00 pm-4:00 pm ET
Location: Pickwick
County: Tishomingo, MS and Hardin, TN
Description: VOLUNTEER LIMIT IN BOAT: 8 + operator; REQUIRED TO BRING: MASK, BOTTLED WATER, CLOSED-TOED SHOES, PANTS RECOMMENDED TO WEAR: SUNBLOCK & BUG SPRAY. Celebrate our 3rd annual ‘Grand Slam Cleanup’ series with our partners at Living Lands & Waters. This cleanup series is part of Keep America Beautiful’s ‘Great American Cleanup.’ Must pre-register at Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful (keeptnriverbeautiful.org).
Contact: [email protected]

Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful Month
Date: 10/16/2021
Time: 10:00 am-2:00 pm CT
Location: New Concord, KY
County: Colloway, KY
Description: VOLUNTEER LIMIT IN BOAT: 8 + operator; REQUIRED TO BRING: MASK, BOTTLED WATER, CLOSED-TOED SHOES, PANTS RECOMMENDED TO WEAR: SUNBLOCK & BUG SPRAY. Celebrate our 3rd annual ‘Grand Slam Cleanup’ series with our partners at Living Lands & Waters. This cleanup series is part of Keep America Beautiful’s ‘Great American Cleanup.’ Must pre-register at Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful (keeptnriverbeautiful.org).
Contact: [email protected] 


Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful Month
Date: 11/20/2021
Time: 9:00 am-12:00 pm CT
Location: Rogersville, AL
County: Lauderdale, AL
Description: We’re excited to return to Joe Wheeler State Park for another cleanup on Wheeler Lake. We’re collaborating with our partners at Living Lands & Waters and at Joe Wheeler State Park to put on this event. Join us to help remove clean up litter along the shorelines of the Tennessee River, much of which was brought here by a tornado that hit a couple of years ago.

VOLUNTEER LIMIT IN BOAT: 8 + operator; REQUIRED TO BRING: MASK, BOTTLED WATER, CLOSED-TOED SHOES, PANTS RECOMMENDED TO WEAR: SUNBLOCK & BUG SPRAY. Celebrate our 3rd annual ‘Grand Slam Cleanup’ series with our partners at Living Lands & Waters. This cleanup series is part of Keep America Beautiful’s ‘Great American Cleanup.’ Must pre-register at Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful (keeptnriverbeautiful.org).
Contact: [email protected]