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Tennessee Scenic Rivers Association

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

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  • 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 (

    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. 

  • Friday, May 08, 2020 4:29 PM | James Parnell (Administrator)

    From the President,

    I wanted to update all on how TSRA is proceeding during these uncertain times. On May 1, ACA posted an update on COVID 19 with a statement which included,

    “Based on what we know now, what the CDC recommends, and on the guidance provided by medical professionals, we will continue to cancel or postpone ACA sponsored events such as team trials until at least June 15th. Public health guidelines vary across the country, but there are clear general guidelines we can follow if we choose to paddle.

    • If you’re sick, stay home and contact your doctor for care

    • If you’re exposed to someone with COVID-19, follow your doctor’s guidance on the proper duration for a quarantine

    • Avoid groups of more than ten people

    • Maintain at least six feet of separation between people at all times. That may make shuttle and transportation, rafting, and tandem paddling challenging. Flat water paddling, park and play, and attainments are good options. Walking or bike shuttles are also options

    • Maintain strict hygiene – wash your hands frequently, don’t share food or water containers, and frequently clean surfaces you touch

    • Minimize travel time and distance, and be sure to follow state and local rules for quarantine and isolation if you do travel

    • Paddle well below your skill level to reduce the risk of injury and need for rescue

    • Respect the communities in which we paddle – be sure to not do anything that might stress local healthcare resources. Make sure we’ll be welcome when this crisis resolves”

    The link to the full statement is

    Our May, June and July TSRA event organizers are closely following ACA and CDC’s recommendations as well as state and county regulations. Decisions will be made accordingly as to whether or not to hold events so watch our website for any changes to the schedule. Managing risks to adequately protect our instructors, volunteers and students is our number one priority along with consideration of land and river managers in the communities we visit along the way.

    So, until we meet up again, be sure to follow the general guidelines ACA has stated above if you choose to paddle and be respectful of the communities in which you paddle.

    Be safe, be responsible and have fun,


  • Thursday, April 02, 2020 5:00 AM | Anonymous

    TSRA is offering three scholarships, valued at $325 each, to an upcoming Rescue Instructor certification course. To apply for the scholarship, please contact Gary Weatherford at no later than Thursday, April 30.

    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 30% 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 June 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: June 18-21, 2020
    Location: Nolichucky Outdoor Learning Institute (NOLI), Erwin, TN
    Instructors: ACA ITE Robin Pope and instructor 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 three scholarships, valued at $325 each. To apply for the scholarship, please contact Gary Weatherford at no later than Thursday, April 30.

    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.
  • Wednesday, April 01, 2020 8:07 PM | James Parnell (Administrator)

    In an era of Covid-19 — not to mention the anxiety that comes from lay offs, home schooling, and generally being cooped up at home — what are the things we need to consider as we think about our paddling adventures these days?

    ACA Tennessee gathered regional paddling thought leaders on April 1 for an informal conversation appropriate for **all levels** of paddling enthusiasts! Watch the recorded event on Facebook.

    Andrea White, ACA Tennessee State Director
    Hunter Branstetter, ACA Tennessee Deputy Director
    Jessie Beckett, TSRA Vice President
    Scott Fisher, NOLI
    and special guest, Robin Pope, Chairman of the ACA Board

  • Tuesday, March 17, 2020 9:24 PM | Anonymous

    TSRA has decided to postpone Rendezvous this year, originally scheduled for April 1-5. Yep, you read that right: postpone. We’re hoping not to cancel the event completely but delay it until the fall. We have no details to share with you just yet, but we are researching possible dates, locations (possibly in the Ocoee/Hiwassee area) and plans for a fall Rendezvous. So hang onto your river booty for a later silent auction.

    We’ve been in touch with our amazing hosts at Camp Nakanawa, and they agree this is the right decision. We hope to descend upon them next spring at Rendezvous 2021.

    So what to do with all those days off you requested April 1-5? Let’s paddle anyway. If you’re not already on TSRA Paddler Chat on Facebook, now is the time to join. There will very likely be some informal (not officially organized by TSRA, so the risk is your own) trips you can join. Plan to do shuttle from the back of a pickup truck, though, in the spirit of social distancing.

    Now a word about refunds: If you’re already registered, we will offer you a 100% refund. However, because Rendezvous is TSRA’s biggest fundraiser and this delay will significantly zap our operating budget, we are throwing out a few other options, should you feel inclined to support TSRA anyway. Click here to see those options and let us know.

  • Wednesday, February 26, 2020 6:51 AM | James Parnell (Administrator)

    Every time you lead a trip at Rendezvous you will be entered into a raffle.The prize is a free weekend at David's cabin. pretty awesome place perched on a cliff on the Cumberland Plateau. Contact David for requirements and more details. 

    Check this out for more Rendezvous information.

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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