State Sen. Ken Yager

Tennessee has added three bodies of water in Rhea County to the state’s list of Natural River Areas, part of the Tennessee Scenic Rivers Program, which will enhance their potential for public enjoyment. The designation is for the Piney River, Little Piney Creek, and Duskin Creek.

The announcement was made as Tennesseans seek local outdoor destinations to enjoy the state’s lush scenery during the high-peak summer vacation months.

“This river offers some of the finest scenery in Tennessee and I am very pleased this legislation will preserve it for many generations to come,” State Sen. Ken Yager, R-Kingston, said. “It has much untapped potential. Once nature enthusiasts visit, they will keep coming back. This legislation increases the marketability and the outdoor recreation potential associated with the completion of the Piney River section of the Cumberland Trail. The trail and waterways will complement each other as our local tourism increases.”

The classification of Natural River Areas is part of the Tennessee Scenic Rivers Program, intended to preserve and protect the free flowing, unpolluted and outstanding scenic, recreational, geologic, botanical, fish, wildlife, historic or cultural values of selected rivers or river segments in the state. Natural River Areas are those designated as rivers or sections of rivers that are free flowing, unpolluted and with shorelines and scenic vistas essentially primitive and generally inaccessible except by trail.

The Tennessee General Assembly approved a bill designating the areas 89-0 in the House and 30-0 in the Senate. Yager and Rep. Ron Travis, R-Dayton, sponsored the bill, which Gov. Bill Lee signed on June 22.

Specifically the areas designated by the bill are the continuous segment of the Piney River in Rhea County from its confluence with Moccasin Creek downstream to its confluence with RockHouse Branch; the segment of Little Piney Creek entirely within Piney Falls State Natural Area in Rhea County downstream to its confluence with Soak Creek, and the segment of Duskin Creek from its confluence with Newby Branch in Rhea County downstream to its confluence with Piney River. All of the area designated by the legislation is on public land. The designation is expected to enhance outdoor activity, particularly among whitewater enthusiasts.

“This designation adds to quality of life for everyone in our community, but will also enhance our economic vitality by boosting ecotourism. I’m very proud that we are keeping these extraordinary assets intact for Tennesseans of tomorrow,” said Travis.