Sharing Access to a Public Resource
More and more, the Federation heard from anglers and private paddlers that commercial operators had come to practically dominate our most cherished rivers and public access points. Without basic rules, heavy traffic too often drives individual users off rivers and can lead to unnecessary damage to habitats. Meanwhile, the commercial operators had no rules requiring safe and fair operation.
Not all commercial operators are created equal. Some seek to be good stewards but others seemingly operate without regard to our water or wildlife, much less other users.
Tennessee Wildlife Federation developed and secured passage of a law to give the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission the authority to create rules for these commercial operators. Despite efforts by the industry to stop these basic rules, operators now must obtain a permit; meet certain safety standards, including safety briefings for renters; and document how many commercial trips they are generating on what portions of our rivers.
Today, the Federation is pressing for a process to create river-specific recreational use management plans. There are good examples nationwide of these plans successfully allowing all users to enjoy public waterways. But to move forward with a planning process, we need your help and voice in the Share Our Rivers Coalition.