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posted October 1, 2001
by Kevin Colburn

A major success for AW and the paddling community! On August 23, 2001 a meeting was held with Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) and local hunt club representatives. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss paddlers' access to the Catoosa Wildlife Management Area roadways during the managed hunts. This issue was identified by AW in its "top 40" access issues in the year 2000. The National Park Service management from Big South Fork and the Obed served as the convener for the meeting held in Crossville Tennessee.

Various local area paddling clubs have approached TWRA in the past seeking access, and receiving a flat "no" in response. This is the first time TWRA has been willing to sit down and discuss the issue. It has taken 18 months of effort to schedule and complete this meeting.

21 paddling clubs in 11 states, American Whitewater and Dagger are supporting the effort to gain access to Catoosa WMA roadways.

The Catoosa Wildlife Management area contains Obed/Emory several river access points; the roads to these access points are closed to all non-hunters during the managed deer and turkey hunts. Turkey hunts are scheduled in the spring when the Obed/Emory is most likely to have enough water to support whitewater paddling.

Catoosa was purchased in the 1940's using Pittman-Robertson funds (Federal Excise Tax on hunting and fishing equipment) and TWRA is fully funded by Pittman-Robertson funds and hunting and fishing licenses.

-The hunters are as expected opposed ANY non-hunter access, sighting the loss quality of the hunting experience because of the increased traffic on the roadways.
-TWRA did not deny the request for access to the Catoosa WMA Roadways.
-TWRA is going to gather input from additional hunter groups.

A small group is going to get back together in early October.

David Luinstra is going to the local National Turkey Hunters Federation meeting within the next month... going into the lions den to put forth our interests for access.

For more information about the Catoosa Access visit the Tennessee Paddle site at www.tennesseepaddle.com

The effort by AW & Tennessee Paddle with the support of lots of paddlers and clubs who love this area will continue to gain access to the Catoosa WMA roadways. Don't forget that on October 12, 2001 the Obed will celebrate its 25th anniversary as a national park.
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