Tennessee Scenic Rivers Association

   Protecting clean water and free-flowing rivers in TN since 1966.

Press Room

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  • Monday, November 08, 2021 5:49 AM | James Parnell (Administrator)

    TSRA Board of Directors had a very productive and fun retreat November 6-7 at TWRA Buffalo Ridge Refuge in Waverly, TN. Those in attendance were Vinson, Melissa, Geoff, Deb, Jessie, Gary, Sally, Daniel, Vinny, John, Charlie and Woody. Some of the items on the agenda included updated the Board of Directors Handbook, setting dates for next year's events and brainstormed about future classes and events. A few of us stayed overnight and scouted access sites on the Buffalo River for a good stretch to hold paddle and safety/rescue classes. The retreat was such a success that it was agreed to make this a yearly event. 

  • Thursday, July 01, 2021 12:38 PM | James Parnell (Administrator)

    You already know that TSRA serves as a paddling club for Middle Tennessee paddlers...and you probably know that TSRA has supported clean water and environmental initiatives over the years, and helped with paddler education and building new canoe and kayak accesses...but are you aware of the contributions TSRA members have made toward conservation-focused land purchases?

    It turns out, over the past 20 years TSRA — on behalf of Tennessee paddlers — has donated more than $53,000 to strategic land purchases by TennGreen Land Conservancy (formerly the Tennessee Parks and Greenways Foundation), which have then been turned over to public lands agencies like Tennessee State Parks and Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.

    Specifically, TSRA has helped TennGreen Land Conservancy purchase land at:

    - Scott’s Gulf in White County on the Caney Fork River (Bridgestone/Firestone Centennial Wilderness)

    - Stillhouse Hollow Falls in Summertown (Stillhouse Hollow Falls State Natural Area

    - Devilstep Hollow at the headwaters of the Sequatchie River (Cumberland Trail State Park)

    - Virgin Falls near Sparta (Virgin Falls State Natural Area)

    - Cummins Falls on the Blackburn Fork River in Jackson County (Cummins Falls State Park)

    - Happy Hollow on the Caney Fork River

    - Rock Island at the Caney Fork River (Rock Island State Park)

    - the Lone Star tract connecting the Cumberland Trail, with river frontage on Daddys Creek and protecting the headwaters of Ozone Falls (Cumberland Trail State Scenic Trail)

    In addition to the funding TSRA has contributed to TennGreen, over the last 2 decades TSRA has donated more than $30,000 to the Swan Conservation Trust to be put toward the acquisition of the land that includes the headwaters of Big Swan Creek.

    And TSRA and other paddling clubs are currently working with Tennessee Citizens for Wilderness Planning on the Cumberland Plateau to support additional land acquisitions near the Obed Wild & Scenic River.

    So, when you wonder what your TSRA membership dues or class fees for paddler training are going toward, rest assured that the leaders at TSRA are keeping an eye open for situations where we can add our funds to a larger effort and have a conservation impact that is greater than the sum of its parts!

    We could use your help in the ongoing work to preserve our free flowing streams.

    Renew your membership today. It’s only $25/year for your entire household or $10 for a student membership: 


    Or make a donation of any amount: 


  • Tuesday, June 08, 2021 11:36 AM | Gary Weatherford (Administrator)

    TSRA is offering two scholarships, valued at $200 each, to an upcoming Rescue Instructor certification course. To apply for the scholarship, please contact Jessie Finamore at Jessie@paddletsra.org no later than Monday, June 21st, 2021.

    Instructor candidates who do not want a scholarship can register for the class now; all TSRA members receive a 10% discount on all NOLI instruction by using promo code TSRA at checkout. Additionally, USA Raft is offering a discount on camping/cabins if you tell them you are an instructor candidate in this class when making your reservation.

    None of us know what July has in store for us from a coronavirus perspective, but NOLI has committed that the health, safety and well-being of staff and students are their priority. If the class needs to be cancelled or postponed, NOLI will issue a full refund.

    So, what is this class all about? Do you want to learn how to teach others to be safer on the water while also becoming better prepared to lead a rescue when things don’t go as planned? The ACA River Safety and Rescue Instructor Course (Level 3) will help you get there by training you how to teach recognition and avoidance of common river hazards, execution of self-rescue techniques, and simple rescues of paddlers in distress.

    What makes this class different from a typical Swiftwater Rescue Instructor certification class? Some candidates will perform at a L3 Rescue Instructor level to be able to teach rescue on class II waterways...but some will perform at a L2 Rescue Instructor level to be able to teach rescue on class I waterways. This is, nationally, the first time an ACA rescue instructor course has been held with the opportunity to come out certified to teach rescue to entry level boaters on class I waterways. If your performance in the class merits a whitewater certification to teach on class II, then you can earn up to an L3, but if your goal is to teach recreational and entry level boaters how to be safer, this is a class you don’t want to miss.

    Date: July 9-11, 2021
    Location: Nolichucky Outdoor Learning Institute (NOLI), Erwin, TN
    Instructors: ACA ITE Robin Pope and Scott Fisher

    Course Prerequisites (see the NOLI website for complete details):

    ·       Age 18+

    ·       Good overall health and fitness

    ·       Comfortable in moving waters

    ·       Proficient in self-rescue skills

    What is this scholarship all about? TSRA is offering two scholarships, valued at $200 each. To apply for the scholarship, please contact Jessie Finamore at Jessie@paddletsra.org no later than Monday, June 21st, 2021.

    Scholarship Requirements and Additional Considerations:

    ·       Each year that your ACA Rescue Instructor certification lasts (which is four years), scholarship recipients must be available and agree to help TSRA by teaching one TSRA Rescue for Rec Boaters two-day course and then also supporting either a TSRA Whitewater Basic River Rescue or TSRA Swiftwater Rescue course.

    ·       Applicant must be a current TSRA and ACA member prior to being awarded a scholarship.

    ·       Food, lodging and transportation are the responsibility of each instructor candidate.

    ·       Upon certification, instructors will be responsible for $35 annual SEIC dues.

    ·       Certified instructors will need current CPR and First Aid certification, but this can be completed after the ACA certification is earned.

    ·       TSRA plans to offer future CPR/First Aid training for a nominal fee. Date(s) are to be determined.

  • Friday, February 19, 2021 8:01 AM | James Parnell (Administrator)

    JOIN TCV February 26 for Their annual #NatureVotes event! This year's event will virtual and live streamed on Facebook & Youtube!

    With live music, legislative updates, guest speakers, interviews, and more, it will be a night you won't want to miss!

    All proceeds go to keeping Tennessee's land wild, free, protected, and preserved for future generations.

    CLICK HERE TO BUY TICKETS TO THE EVENT OR BECOME A SPONSOR: https://www.tnconservationvoters.org/tickets-sponsorships

    We hope to "see" you there!

  • Tuesday, December 29, 2020 12:00 PM | James Parnell (Administrator)

    Bill Griswold died at age 93. Bill Griswold made many things happen. He was a talented engineer who simply had to understand all facets of any project in which he got involved. And then he turned and as naturally as possible, explained it all to whomever else showed any interest of that project.

    Many paddlers know that Bill Griswold was a founder of the Tennessee Scenic Rivers Association, and others know he was an inventor of the Blue Hole Canoe. He was also the most active, most vocal and most generous promoter of the TSRA canoe school which was the underpinning of Tennessee’s early participation on the nearby whitewater river runs. Bill served more years than anyone else on the Board of Directors of the TSRA.

    Bill was involved down to the elemental details just like that in many other parts and pieces of his life. He was the first one of anyone in our engineering crowd to install a ground source heat pump at his suburban Nashville home. And he then explained it all in detail to anyone interested. You should have seen the fantastic wood shop he installed in his basement at that suburban home after he retired. And if you showed up at the right time you could have had a tour of the capabilities of each and every machine he installed there. And then later he became fascinated with a motor driven, robotic telescope and he would show off all the capabilities of locking onto the image of a planet for hours on end.

    Bill made a big difference in my life, both professionally when we worked together as aerospace engineers, and then shortly thereafter as he introduced me to whitewater canoeing. And there never was any fault or lag within his mentoring to me which I needed and received whether I knew it or not. I do not know nor have I ever met anyone who could stand as Bill’s peer. He was unique. He was as uplifting and positive as he was unique. Below is a photo of Bill and Vesta canoeing. Note Vesta knows the cross-draw!

    Bob Lantz

  • Monday, November 02, 2020 7:28 AM | James Parnell (Administrator)

    What a trip! Water levels as always dictated our venue. Following an early in the week change to our full moon overnight paddle venue we ended up back on Clear Creek. With Big South Fork surging up to 9000+ and Clear Creek coming in at near minimum we opted to head to Clear Creek for the 20-mile paddle from Hwy 127 to Barnett Bridge. Due to the late change we decided not to get on the water Friday. We instead camped near Lily Bridge and set out the following day. Our crew of 6 Mike Qualls, Steve Morris, Stephanie Sullivan, Adrian Bahan, John Hawkins, and myself  had an awesome evening!

    The first day we spent about as much time out of our boats as we did in our boats. No, it wasn’t due to swimmers. What we had however were about 6 or 8 portages (I lost count), most due to downed trees from the recent storms.  It kept it interesting and helped to keep us warm though. The first 4-5 miles was very tight, technical, and wood laden. After yet another portage we set up camp shortly after the confluence with No Business Creek. A nice flat area with a water fall. We were all exhausted but having a great time! After some warm clothes and warm food, we enjoyed a fire and early to bed.

    The next day with 15 miles between us and the take out we pushed off about 9am. Following a long flat section, we would encounter our first portage of the day. A rock jumble that had no navigable lines. We opted to lower our boats on tethers and reenter below the jumble. Interspersed in the long sections of flat water were plenty of class I / II that added a nice assortment of paddling. These miles clicked off pretty quickly with only 3 portages for the day. The final portage is the class III about a mile from Barnett Bridge. We spent a little time here reading the water, photo ops, and just enjoying the moment as we knew the end of our trip was just around the bend.

    I believe we may have brought some additional paddlers into the whitewater world and hopefully new members of TSRA. It was a trip we will not likely forget. There is already talk of an overnight spring trip on the Big South Fork. Keep an eye on the TSRA calendar.



    Please take a look at some of the pictures from our trip here.

  • Thursday, July 30, 2020 12:12 PM | Anonymous

    Paddle Safe on Local Waterways, Marshall County Tribune, July 30. 20202020 has been a tough year all the way around, and our opportunities to provide ACA training to help new paddlers have been curtailed in the same way most of our lives have been hobbled.

    However, an effort on the Duck River, bringing the community together to get some basic water safety orientation in the wake of several recreational river fatalities, has been a way for some of the middle Tennessee ACA instructors to help move the dial. The Marshall County Tribune recently highlighted this effort, the Ashlyn Grace Paddle Safe Group (click on attached photo to read the article).

    Thank you to ACA instructors Daniel McKee and Ellen Omohundro, TSRA President Sally Barr and ACA Tennessee State Director Andrea White for bringing expertise to bear among the new paddlers in this community. And special thanks to Kenneth Russell for being the heart and soul behind this effort.

  • Tuesday, July 21, 2020 7:00 PM | James Parnell (Administrator)


    TUESDAY, JULY 21, 2020 AT 7 PM – 9 PM

    After correcting our technical dificults from May 14, we will broadcast on July 21.

    Hosted by TSRA Board Member Vinson Dill , talks with Bob Lantz, founding partner of Blue Hole Canoe Company and Author of Lean Downstream: The Whole History from Beginning to End of the Blue Hole Canoe Company (https://www.amazon.com/LEAN-DOWNSTREAM-HISTORY-Beginning-Company/dp/1089182325)

    Where he will discuss some of the early history of TSRA and Blue Hole Canoes.
    Join us on the TSRA Facebook page at 7 pm Central and let's see what they are going to share.

  • Monday, June 29, 2020 10:06 AM | Anonymous

    When a bunch of mission-driven folks come together to accomplish something bigger than themselves, you have to celebrate the “win”!

    We started out with the premise that there are too many paddler fatalities happening in Tennessee on lakes and class I waterways. We looked at the success TSRA has had over the last four years using certified rescue instructors to teach safety and rescue to entry level boaters, and we realized that with the significant demand for training that is keeping our L4 SWR Instructors busy already, we might need to tap into a new resource to maintain our standard of training and expand offerings to the recreational paddlers. **We need more *L2* and *L3* Rescue Instructors.**

    ACA Tennessee State Director Andrea White started off talking with Scott Fisher at NOLI - Nolichucky Outdoor Learning Institute, an L5 Whitewater and Rescue Instructor who was already on track to pursue a role as a paddling Instructor Trainer (IT). We brought ACA Chairman of the Board Robin Pope into the conversation, who agreed that certifying new instructors at this lower level might succeed in targeting instruction to an audience of entry level boaters that is in need of the training. And TSRA leaders like President Sally Barr, past President Gary Weatherford, past President Woody Woodall and VP Jessie Beckett brought the conversation to the Board level about how the club could best support the effort.

    In full disclosure, TVCC President Mike Shillinger was also *very* supportive. Ultimately tornadoes in Chattanooga and Covid fallout precluded TVCC participation...but not for lack of support for the mission!

    Covid tried to take us down, but a combination of good timing (class was scheduled to coincide with the state opening events up to 50 people), the fact that L3 skills have less personal contact than L4/L5 skills, and determination to make it work really came through. We replaced classroom time with Zoom sessions, we required buffs and, for some exercises, N95 masks. We used an outdoor facility for on-site classroom learning, and everyone was super diligent about masking up, sanitizing and more.

    Alex Stiner Photography donated his time to help us with photos so we could try to get more reach driving awareness about paddler safety training. When Alex didn’t have good river shoes to traverse the whitewater environment with his camera equipment, River Sports Outfitters in Knoxville donated a pair of Astrals to sponsor his efforts and save the day!

    And before it was all over both USA Raft and Nolichucky Gorge Campground and Cabins stepped up to help us out, too. It’s good to have a river family that believes in working together to make a difference!

    We put out a joint press release about our efforts.

    Reporter Kelly Grosfield and photojournalist Andy Jackson of WJHL News Channel 11 geared up to cover the class for the local TV news.

    Jonathan Roberts from the Johnson City Press came by to share the story.

    We even got a segment mention on talk radio in Chattanooga on Tony Sanders Outdoors - TSO Saturday morning.

    In the end, we have six new certified Rescue Instructors in Tennessee, who have joined the mission to help change the paddler fatality rate in our region.

    Debbie Briscoe, Bluff City, TN
    Renee Garside, Franklin, TN
    Jim Heisinger, Clarksville, TN
    Jesse Hollaway, Murfreesboro, TN
    Christopher Lowe, Carthage, TN
    Ellen Omohundro, Gladeville, TN

    Of note, Scott Fisher also certified as a Rescue IT.

    Congratulations are in order!! What they did was hard (!) and what they are about to do is important. Let’s all cheer them on!

    Alex has put together a photo gallery of some of the best moments.

    If you know of Instructor Candidates who would be interested in pursuing an L2 or L3 certification as a Rescue Instructor, please reach out to either Andrea White or Scott Fisher.

  • Tuesday, June 16, 2020 3:18 PM | Anonymous

    On June 19th, a group of paddlers from across Tennessee are coming together in Erwin, Tennessee. But instead of coming for their own fun, these paddlers are traveling to Erwin to become certified as Rescue Instructors. During their class, they’ll learn how to teach fundamental skills to prevent paddling deaths and to respond to common paddling accidents. Once certified, they’ll return to their home communities across Tennessee to teach safety and rescue skills to casual paddlers and beginner whitewater boaters on class I and class II waterways.

    Read more about this education initiative and the reasons behind it in this joint press release by the American Canoe Association (ACA), Nolichucky Outdoor Learning Institute (NOLI) and TSRA. 

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Tennessee Scenic Rivers Association is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, #58-1746179.

P.O. Box 159041 Nashville, Tennessee 37215-9041

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