With many waterways across the country designated as blueways, it was only natural that the Hiwassee River receive that same designation.Gary Farlow, president and CEO of the Cleveland-Bradley …
With many waterways across the country designated as blueways, it was only natural that the Hiwassee River receive that same designation.
Gary Farlow, president and CEO of the Cleveland-Bradley Chamber of Commerce, was instrumental in getting the new Hiwassee Blueway named.
"Me and my son liked paddling this river, and I had visited other areas that were blueways, and I thought — 'why not the Hiwassee'," Farlow said. "We got Southeast Tennessee Tourism involved, and we started with a rudimentary website, then we formed a committee, and now — five or six years later, we have these signs and a website.
"The idea is to try to promote tourism on the river which stimulates economic development along the river, and the towns along the river, identify access points, and talk about cultural and historical things around those access points," he continued. "Long term, we want to start looking for at conservation programs, education programs."
Farlow said that the group has around 20 access points determined. These access points are located at the river as it stretches through four counties that house the Hiwassee — Bradley, Polk, McMinn and Meigs.
"Hopefully, we will be able to help generate some business for these communities," he said.
Farlow said that there were many entities that got the idea of a Hiwassee Blueway off the ground.
"The forest service, state parks, TVA, and funding from the Lyndhurst Foundation and McKee Foods have all been involved, as has State Sen. Mike Bell," he noted. "We hope to generate other grants as we go along."
Alison Bullock, who works with the Rivers, Trails and Conservation service with the National Park Service, was one of the many agency representatives at the sign unveiling Friday.
"This is a great group of folks who have dedicated a large amount of time, and all caring about the same thing," she said. "These people care about the Hiwassee River. She added the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, State Park Service, and the Tennessee Overhead association were also involved.
The Hiwassee Blueway idea was to be unveiled earlier in the year, but Tennessee Department of Tourism and Development Commissioner Kevin Triplett was unable to attend. That led to the change in the sign unveiling to Friday, Oct. 13.
"This is an asset that attracts folks from all over, and just while we are standing here, there have been several go up or down the river," said Triplett at the sign unveiling. "It is exciting to see so many people on the same page for promoting our natural resources.
"We are very blessed to have what we do here in Tennessee," he added.
The next project that has been identified is improvement to an access point off U.S. Highway 411 where there is improvements being planned.
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