For well over 20 years paddlers have sought improved access to a beautiful section of Daddy’s Creek flowing through Catoosa Wildlife Management Area near Crossville, TN. Daddy’s Creek only has enough water to float after significant rain, which typically happens in the fall, winter and spring. Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) road and area closures related to hunting during this timeframe have severely limited paddling use. Earlier today TWRA notified American Whitewater of a recent decision to expand public access. Chris Richardson, Assistant Director of TWRA shared in a letter to American Whitewater:
“TWRA would like to provide more access to Daddy’s Creek for paddlers, while balancing those interests with the interests of hunters and TWRA’s interest in maintaining the area and enhancing wildlife populations and habitat. This leads me to our recent decision regarding public access to Catoosa. Effective immediately, Catoosa will be kept open to paddlers during daylight hours throughout the year except for a winter closure period. This change will provide significantly more access for paddlers throughout the months of November, December, March, and April.”
Upon learning of the decision, local paddler Clay Wright reflected that “Daddy’s Creek Canyon is one of the most scenic and pristine Class IV free-flowing river sections in Tennessee, and is a favorite of boaters across the Southeast and beyond. Opening up the weekend and spring access is a groundbreaking event that will allow more paddlers to enjoy the towering boulders and emerald green waters this run is famous for.”
The lower portion of Daddy’s Creek was protected as a Wild and Scenic River in 1976 along with the Obed River, Emory River, and Clear Creek. The announcement comes on the 50th anniversary of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, and paddlers from Tennessee and across the region applaud the agency’s actions. Kevin Colburn, American Whitewater’s National Stewardship Director works on Wild and Scenic Rivers across the country and is overjoyed:
“What better way to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act then to improve public access on one America’s beloved Wild and Scenic Rivers! We’d like to extend our deep gratitude to TWRA for helping the public enjoy this great stream.”
River recreation in Tennessee is an important facet of the State’s economy and way of life. Eric Jackson, founder of Tennessee-based Jackson Kayak Company, shared with us that:
“I made middle Tennessee on the Cumberland Plateau my home and Jackson Kayak’s home because of the whitewater, incredible landscape, and quiet rural nature of the area. If you have not been here to our area of Tennessee in the spring, now is the time to come and discover one of your new favorite free flowing rivers in the USA! Jackson Kayak and the Jackson family are forever grateful for freeing Daddy’s Creek for us and anyone who loves whitewater kayaking on free flowing rivers.”
Over recent months local paddlers and American Whitewater representatives have worked with TWRA to explore opportunities for expanded access. We would like to thank the TWRA for supporting the Tennessee residents and visitors who cherish Daddy’s Creek, and we are grateful for TWRA’s partnership approach. We strongly encourage paddlers to be respectful visitors to Catoosa Wildlife Management Area, carpool and drive slow, and minimize noise. In addition, paddlers should avoid scheduling large paddling events on big game hunt days, particularly the opening days and weekends.
We’d also like to thank Brian Bivens for professionally assisting American Whitewater, and George Lindemann for supporting our work on this issue. “It’s never easy to get this kind of partnership working,” said Mr. Lindemann, local paddler and access-enthusiast. “This is good for paddlers, which makes it good for businesses and for the economy.”
Letter outlining expanded access to Daddy's Creek granted by the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency.