By BRIAN GRAVES
A long-sought agreement between TVA and Ocoee whitewater rafting businesses finally came to fruition with a new bill signed by Gov. Bill Haslam in June.That agreement landed in a three-way tie for …
By BRIAN GRAVES
A long-sought agreement between TVA and Ocoee whitewater rafting businesses finally came to fruition with a new bill signed by Gov. Bill Haslam in June.
That agreement landed in a three-way tie for the No. 10 spot on the “Top 10 Newsmakers of 2017” list. Top newsmakers were selected by the newspaper’s editors and staff writers.
The bill created the Ocoee River Recreation and Economic Development Fund Act, to support recreational water releases on the Ocoee River, management by the Tennessee State Parks, and encouragement of economic growth around the river.
This new partnership is between the Ocoee River Outfitters Association, the state, the U.S. Forest Service and the Tennessee Valley Authority.
TVA will receive $11.8 million over the next 20
years to compensate for revenues lost when the river runs free to allow
for whitewater rafting activities.
“This legislation is a great win for Polk County, the state of Tennessee and visitors from all over the world,” said state Sen. Mike Bell (R-Riceville) who represents the 9th Senatorial District. “We are open for business, and will continue to be for many more years to come as a result of this new law.”
State Rep. Dan Howell (R-Georgetown) whose 22nd Legislative District also includes Polk County, agreed with Bell’s assessment.
Both local legislators said cooperation from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, TVA and local leaders were key factors in passage of the measure.
“We appreciate the cooperation of Gov. Haslam, TDEC, TVA and our local leaders in crafting this legislation,” Howell said. “The Ocoee River is a huge asset to Tennessee and just a great place to visit.
This new law will ensure that Southeast Tennessee continues to benefit from the recreational use of the river in the future.”
Brock Hill, TDEC deputy commissioner for Parks and Conservation, pointed to the value of the Ocoee River.
“The Ocoee River is a major destination for outdoor enthusiasts, and this legislation will sustain its economic viability for the long term,” Hill said. “Tennessee State Parks is proud to play its part.”
Also weighing in the benefits was David Bowling, vice president of Land and River Management for TVA.
“This agreement is an excellent example of government agencies at the local, state and federal levels pulling together with one common goal — the economic prosperity of the region,” Bowling said. “TVA is proud to play an important role in the past, present and future of whitewater rafting on the Ocoee River.”
Rob Paden, president of the Ocoee River Rafting Outfitters Association, credited the sense of team work by state and local leaders.
“The Ocoee River Outfitters are extremely grateful for the leadership our local elected officials showed in supporting our industry and our community,” Paden said. “Gov. Haslam and the Tennessee General Assembly have created a more business-friendly environment and an opportunity for economic investment in the Ocoee region.”
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