NASHVILLE, Tenn. – An event marking Governor Bill Haslam’s signing of major legislation promoting the continued recreational use of Tennessee’s world famous Ocoee River was held in Nashville on Wednesday. Senator Mike Bell (R-Riceville) and Representative Dan Howell (R-Georgetown), who sponsored the new law, said it ensures that recreational use of the river continues for many more years to come.
“This legislation is a great win for Polk County, the State of Tennessee and visitors from all over the world,” said Senator Bell. “We are open for business and will continue to be for many more years to come as a result of this new law.”
Bell and Howell said cooperation from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC), the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and local leaders were key factors in passage of the measure.
“We appreciate the cooperation of Governor Haslam, TDEC, TVA and our local leaders in crafting this legislation,” said Rep. Howell. “The Ocoee River is a huge asset to Tennessee and just a great place to visit. This new law will ensure that Southeast Tennessee continues to benefit from the recreational use of the river in the future.”
“The Ocoee River is a major destination for outdoor enthusiasts and this legislation will sustain its economic viability for the long term,” said Brock Hill, TDEC Deputy Commissioner for Parks and Conservation. “Tennessee State Parks is proud to play its part.”
“This agreement is an excellent example of government agencies at the local, state and federal levels pulling together with one common goal – the economic prosperity of the region,” said David Bowling, Vice President of Land and River Management for TVA. “TVA is proud to play an important role in the past, present and future of whitewater rafting on the Ocoee River.”
“The Ocoee River Outfitters are extremely grateful for the leadership our local elected officials showed in supporting our industry and our community,” added Rob Paden, President of the Ocoee Rafting Outfitters Association. “Governor Haslam and the Tennessee General Assembly have created a more business friendly environment and an opportunity for economic investment in the Ocoee region. We look forward to working with the state to help promote and grow outdoor recreation in Southeast Tennessee. Today’s bill signing marks a new era for the Ocoee River, helps preserve our local economy and a wonderful asset to our state.”