Soak Creek Update

April 16, 2016

We are pleased to announce Soak Creek has been named Tennessee’s newest scenic river. Here’s more information on this fabulous treasure from the American Whitewater web page (submitted by K. Colburn in 2016):

Soak Creek...A tributary of the Piney River, this free-flowing creek serves as critical habitat for the iconic species of the Cumberland Plateau and provides a wide range of outdoor opportunities for all ages as it winds through Bledsoe, Cumberland and Rhea Counties and along the Justin P. Wilson Cumberland Trail State Park. After unanimous bipartisan approval by the State House and Senate earlier this month, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam signed legislation naming Soak Creek one of 15 waterways in the state designated as Scenic Rivers.

The designation helps to formalize the work local landowners, nonprofit groups and state agencies have done to ensure the public has access to this pristine natural treasure for generations to come. Soak Creek flows down from the Cumberland Plateau into a remote cliff-lined canyon of primitive Appalachian wilderness. When flows rise following rains, the stream offers whitewater paddlers a scenic Class III descent. Hikers on the Cumberland Trail benefit from a recent land conservation purchase that borders Soak Creek. In addition to its own merits as critical habitat and an outdoor recreation spot, Soak Creek connects the nearby Piney Falls State Natural Area and Stinging Fork Natural Area— creating a corridor for nature and visitors alike and helping to ensure protection of the wider area.

The designation recognizes a shared vision for voluntarily preserving the ecological, scenic and recreational values of Soak Creek among neighbors and ensures future generations have the opportunity to experience these natural treasures and benefit from tourism and the many other economic benefits they provide.

American Whitewater, Appalachian Paddling Enthusiasts, The Nature Conservancy and the Tennessee Scenic Rivers Association took an active role in advocating for Scenic River designation for Soak Creek. We would like to recognize the leadership of Tennessee State Senator Ken Yager and State Representative Ron Travis who introduced the bill and shepherded it to passage on behalf of the landowners and citizens of Tennessee.

Pictured on the first Row: Jane Polansky, Tennessee Scenic River Administrator; Brock Hill, Commissioner of TN State Parks; Senator Ken Yager; Terry Cook, Director of the Tennessee Chapter of the Nature Conservancy; Lucian Geise, Counsel for Legislative Affairs, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation; Rep. Ron Travis; and Bob Martineau, Commissioner for the Department of Environment and Conservation. Second Row: Brian Bivens, lobbyist for the TN Nature Conservancy and Alex Wyss, Director of Conservation, TN Nature Conservancy