Sharing Access to a Public Resource
More and more, the Federation heard from anglers and private paddlers that commercial operators had come to dominate our most cherished rivers and public access points, while increasing litter, bad behavior, and damage to habitats. Meanwhile, the commercial operators had no rules guiding safe and fair operation.
Not all commercial operators are created equal. Some seek to be good stewards but others operate without regard to our water or wildlife, much less other users.
In 2018, 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. The Commission led a public process to develop rules that were then unanimously approved to begin January 1, 2020.
Commercial operators 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.
But bills were filed in the Tennessee General Assembly that could limit—or completely rollback—the new rules for commercial operators. We expect challenges like these to continue for years to come. That’s why we need you to join the Share Our Rivers Coalition to support a balanced soultion for all users.