Join the Share Our Rivers Coalition

Commercial canoe and kayak rental services have grown quickly and without guidelines. On our most popular rivers, there are increases in water rescues, unsafe practices, litter, bad behavior, and conflicts with other citizens using the river. Meanwhile, individual anglers and paddlers are crowded out of these public water resources.

Join the Share Our Rivers Coalition and you’ll be among individual anglers and paddlers, professional fishing guides, and even other commercial operators who agree that reasonable guidelines are needed to correct bad actors and give guidelines to good ones.

Because our rivers are public resources, citizens should be able to enjoy them. The Share Our Rivers Coalition believes:

  • Balance is needed to protect the interests of many users.
    As commercial operators have grown, they have come to dominate river traffic and many river access points. Individual anglers and paddlers can no longer freely use and enjoy the rivers.
  • It is reasonable to require commercial operators to contribute to maintaining the health of the public river resources that they profit from.
    The increased traffic creates more litter and huge wear and tear on these natural resources, degrading them for fish, wildlife, and future users. Permits and fees for commercial operators are effectively used in other states and even parts of Tennessee.
  • Commercial operators must maintain sensible operating standards to protect public safety and minimize damage to rivers.
    Currently, there are no set guidelines to ensure the safety of those who rent from commercial operators, leading to more water rescues. And required best practices could reduce activity and behavior that damage habitats.
  • Quality rivers and quality experiences are important to users and local economies.
    Only by preserving a high-quality experience for everyone—individual anglers and paddlers, companies, and the state—will our waters continue to provide economic opportunity and attract new residents and customers seeking an enjoyable outdoor life.

The Share Our Rivers Coalition supports the following concepts and solutions:

  • Stop Bad Actors
    There are several thoughtful commercial operators who see the need to address the problems identified. This means we must hold bad actors accountable and stop them from continuing to create problems on our rivers.
  • Establish Safety Requirements and Procedures
    Basic safety standards for commercial operators are needed to reduce risk to renters and the need for water rescues.
  • Establish Vessel Requirements
    Commercial operators should clearly mark their vessels in order to increase accountability for bad—and sometimes illegal—behavior of renters.
  • Establish Annual Operating Permits and Conduct Inspections
    Most businesses in Tennessee must have an annual inspection and permit. Commercial paddling operators should be subject to oversight of basic requirements.
  • Measure Commercial River Traffic
    There is no detailed accounting of the number of commercial trips taken on our rivers. Measurements taken through annual permitting will make informed management decisions possible. These will be modeled upon proven management methods used elsewhere.
  • Share in Maintenance Costs
    Fee structures should be shaped by the data collected through annual permitting. They must be scalable as to not penalize smaller operators.
  • Better Manage Public Access
    Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) must have the resources to manage public access areas to allow all users to access the river in a safe and timely manner.
  • Increase Law Enforcement
    More law enforcement presence is desperately needed on our most popular rivers to ensure safety, prevent altercations, enforce litter laws, and maintain order.

Organization members of the Coalition include: