Fifteen communities have been accepted into the inaugural cohort of the Tennessee RiverTowns program as part of the Tennessee RiverLine, the next major regional trail network in North America. This transformational initiative is led by the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, in conjunction with the Tennessee RiverLine Partnership.
The program is a three-step initiative that cultivates collaboration among river communities around the Tennessee RiverLine, envisioned as a continuous system of paddling, hiking and biking experiences along the 652-mile reach of the Tennessee River. .
Participating communities will benefit from economic development and entrepreneurship opportunities, quality of life amenities, and increased access to riverine experiences that improve public health and natural resource management. In the third phase of the program, communities will obtain the official designation of Tennessee RiverTown as part of the Tennessee RiverLine.
For the inaugural cohort, the partnership received 22 nominations representing more than 936,000 community members. Selection criteria included a demonstrated understanding of the Tennessee RiverLine vision and guiding principles, as well as the local partnerships necessary to maintain an applicant’s participation in the program. Any community in Tennessee River can apply for future cohorts.
The following 15 communities have been selected to continue the process:
- Bridgeport, Alabama
- Decatur, Alabama
- Guntersville, Alabama
- Huntsville, Alabama
- Shoals, Alabama
- Benton County, Tennessee
- Clifton, Tennessee
- Hardin County, Tennessee
- Knoxville, Tennessee
- Loudon County, Tennessee
- South Pittsburg, Tennessee
- Stewart County, Tennessee
- Roane County, Tennessee
- Calvert City, Kentucky
- Paducah – McCracken County, Kentucky
“The communities of Tennessee River are the beating heart of the Tennessee RiverLine,” said Brad Collett, director of the Tennessee RiverLine Partnership, associate professor at Herbert College of Agriculture and UT’s College of Architecture and Design. “We are excited to begin collaborating with such a diverse group of communities through the Tennessee RiverTowns program as we seek to unlock the river’s latent potentials for the benefit of generations of area residents and visitors. “
Communities that were unable to apply this year can apply during future registration periods starting in summer 2021. Those wishing to learn more can visit the program’s web page.
The program follows considerable interest generated in the summer of 2019 through the Tennessee RiverLine pilot community program. Five pilot communities were selected to share feedback and ideas on the Tennessee RiverLine vision and to begin the Tennessee RiverLine membership process, and these five communities are members of the First RiverTowns Cohort.
Called the next great regional trail network in North America, the Tennessee RiverLine began in 2016 at UT’s School of Landscape Architecture, co-hosted by the College of Architecture and Design and the Herbert College of Agriculture. Today it is administered by the Tennessee RiverLine Partnership with continued strong financial support from UT and the Tennessee Valley Authority.
The Tennessee RiverLine Partnership was founded as a diverse group of river advocates, including UT, TVA, the National Park Service’s Rivers, Trail and Conservation Assistance Program, and several other organizations and agencies, to realize the Tennessee vision. RiverLine.
Amanda F. Johnson (865-974-6401, [email protected])