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Scenic Rivers Association
The Tennessee Scenic Rivers Association (TSRA)
is a volunteer organization dedicated to the preservation, protection and
restoration of the scenic, free-flowing rivers of our state. Based in
Nashville, Tennessee, the organization has approximately 1,000 members
across the state and the south.
In June 1966, two friends, Robert Miller and Tony Statler, were
floating the Collins River, fishing for trout. They had heard about the
Corps of Engineers' plans to channelize the river and said to each other,
"We can't let this happen." In September, a group, including Miller,
Statler, Don Bodley, Bill Griswold, Bill Mitchum and Bill and Lee Russell
(of Tennessee Citizens for Wilderness Planning [TCWP]) gathered at
Blakemore Methodist Church in Nashville and formed the Tennessee Scenic
The group's initial objective was to protect rivers. Together with TCWP,
TSRA campaigned hard for state and national scenic rivers legislation. In
fact Tennessee's Scenic Rivers Act of 1969 was the first such comprehensive
act in the nation. National scenic rivers legislation followed a year later,
and rivers like the Obed and the Big South Fork received national scenic
The group began floating rivers like the Collins and Buffalo. Other group
trips followed, and eventually paddlers got the urge for whitewater. Dick
Wooten remembers an early trip on Spring Creek. Describing it as "a
debacle," Wooten declined to name names or provide any further details.
This led to club members seeking out training in canoeing. In 1970 the
club offered its first school, one of the first such training events in the
United States. This desire to nurture paddling skills eventually grew into
the instruction program TSRA offers today.
TSRA remains active in conservation issues, joining with other groups to
combat threats to rivers like Dry Fork near Spencer and threats to entire
watershed areas posed by practices like mountain top removal coal mining.
Our members "adopt" streams to monitor health, and we conduct cleanups on
rivers and streams. We enjoy club-sponsored trips year-round and offer
instruction in sea kayak, whitewater canoe, C-1 and kayak, as well as self
rescue, swiftwater rescue, CPR, trip leader seminar and Wilderness First
But most of all, we enjoy the friendships we form around the issues that
unite us, the rivers we enjoy and the sport that keeps us young. Come paddle