News & Events

Seven Islands Award

Seven Islands Wins State Award of Excellence

Seven Islands AwardSeven Islands State Birding Park won the 2015 “Excellence in Resource Management” award from Tennessee State Parks.

Parks nominated for this award have demonstrated excellence in effective and abundant resource management activities within their park. Resource management activities can be both natural and cultural and can include but are not limited to: invasive species management, historic preservation, rare species inventory, habitat enhancement or protection, pest management, oral history collection, and more.

Seven Islands State Birding Park places an extraordinary focus on habitat management because “no habitat, no birds!” Every year park staff “touches” around 3/4 of the 420 acres they manage. They are in a constant state of habitat restoration and improvement. In 2015, the park burned over 130 acres in order to set back succession, and suppress woody species in our native warm season grasslands. They have taken action to control and remove invasive species on over 45 acres. This year they also completed a grant that involved the planting of 130 acres of native pollinator friendly species into the native warm season grasses. They planted and maintained 5,000 native trees and shrubs in order to restore and to create new hedgerow.

Bird banding was made available to the public for the first time last year. A record 135  birds were banded in one session. The Sora, Common Raven, Dickcissel, and Clay Colored Sparrow were all new and exciting additions to the Seven Islands State Birding Park bird list in 2015.

The park has laid the groundwork for expanding the wetland area to over five acres, planting a new monarch butterfly meadow, and designing and installing three new hummingbird attracting native plant gardens.

A new partnership with the Tennessee chapter of the Bluebird Society has resulted in the donation and installation of 50 new songbird nesting boxes. Volunteers will monitor and maintain these boxes every spring and summer. Student members of the UT Wildlife and Fisheries Society have been mapping and installing 15 new wood duck boxes that were built and donated by the local chapter of the Woodsman of America. These boxes will be monitored and maintained by the students.

A new partnership with the American Chestnut Society has resulted in the establishment of an American Chestnut Seed Orchard at Seven Island State Birding Park. Planting will continue through the next few years and thousands of blight resistant chestnut seedlings will be planted. These seedlings will be culled until only the strongest and most resistant trees remain which will be used as parent plants whose seeds will be harvested to establish new orchards with the goal of restoring the American Chestnut to the North American forest ecosystem.

Congratulations to park manager Justine Cucchiara and her staff for this well-deserved award!

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weed wangle pic_opt

Knoxville Weed Wrangle Needs You

weed wrangle1Not all green is good! Knoxville’s first Weed Wrangle is set for March 5, 2016 at 9 a.m. in four different locations to help eradicate non-native plants. Volunteers are needed to help remove invasive plants that are threatening our landscapes and upsetting the ecological balance.

More and more, our native trees, plants, and wildlife are losing the fight against invasive plants introduced decades ago for agricultural or landscaping purposes. If left unchecked, future generations might never glimpse the forest floor as alien undergrowth shrouds and chokes trees large and small. Although some invasives are quite beautiful, feature flowers and pleasing scents, they are quite lethal to the outdoor world where we run, hike, bike, and play.

Please consider participating in Knoxville’s Weed Wrangle, sponsored by the Knoxville Garden Club, Invasive Plant Control, Inc., and Legacy Parks Foundation. Volunteers are needed in Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness, at the Knoxville Botanical Gardens and Arboretum, Ijams Nature Center, and Lakeshore Park.

To volunteer, log on to and click on the photo of Knoxville.


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Collier Easement Protects 15 Acres in Powell

Colliers_EvansLegacy Parks Foundation Executive Director Carol Evans met recently with Dr. Bob Collier and his wife Louise to create a conservation easement on 15 acres adjacent to Beaver Creek near the Powell branch library. The Colliers wanted to preserve the land forever to prevent future development.

The Collier easement assures the land will remain in the natural state regardless of ownership and will complement the greater Beaver Creek Watershed project that aims to protect and restore the naturally functioning ecosystem while enhancing recreational opportunities.

“This easement on the Collier property requires it to stay in a natural state as a refuge,” Evans said. The easement goes with the land in perpetuity, regardless of ownership. Foothills Land Conservancy will manage the easement.

Through the years, Legacy Parks has helped other landowners preserve over 1,000 acres throughout the region, and is also able to accept gifts of land to preserve it for future generations.







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Roy Award

Roy Arthur Wins Award for Harrell Road Park

Roy AwardRoy Arthur, Watershed Coordinator for Knox County Stormwater Management and a Research Associate at Tennessee Water Resources Research Center at UT, recently won an Individual Service Award from the Tennessee Recreation and Parks Association for his tireless efforts on Knox County’s new Harrell Road Stormwater Park. Legacy Parks and Knox County Parks and Recreation nominated Roy for the award.

From a 19-acre remnant of “unbuildable” land donated to Legacy Parks, Roy helped create a beautiful passive neighborhood park with impressive features that both protect the adjacent Beaver Creek and serve as an educational resource for stormwater management. The park has two constructed stormwater wetland ponds, a rain garden, established native vegetation, and a soon-to-be installed pervious paver parking area. The wetland ponds divert stormwater from the nearby subdivision allowing for pollutant treatment and infiltration – water that was previously routed to Beaver Creek. Seeded with a mixture of native grasses, widlflowers, and shrubs, and with a tree grant providing native trees, the park may one day be designated a state arboretum.

In addition to the conservation and education advantages, other amenities make Harrell Road a unique community asset – a three-quarter mile walking trail, greenspace vibrant with the sights and sounds of nature, a kayak/canoe launch on Beaver Creek, and interpretive signage throughout the park.

And we can thank Roy Arthur for most of this. His dedication to the project went above and beyond his professional responsibilities. Roy has been involved in every aspect of the development of the park – from land acquisition, design, fundraising, installation including educating and guiding volunteers, and putting in extensive personal hours. to create this natural jewel for East Tennessee that has long term educational, research, and environmental benefits for our entire community.

Harrell Road Park should open to the public in spring 2016.




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New Balter Beerworks Partners with Legacy Parks

rsz_balter_main_logoBalter Beerworks, the new brewery and restaurant at the corner of Jackson Avenue and Broadway in the former BP station is now open and has chosen Legacy Parks Foundation as their community partner.  During the grand opening week, a percentage of proceeds will be donated to to Legacy Parks, and each month a different beer will be designated the Legacy Beer of the Month, and a percentage of those sales will also support our work.

“Becoming a part of the Downtown Knoxville community is important to us, and we’re fortunate to have formed a mutually-beneficial relationship with Legacy Parks Foundation,” said Blaine Wedekind, founder of Balter Beerworks. “We share in their mission of leaving East Tennessee better than we found it, and hope to continue our friendship for many years to come.”

The Balter Beerworks location puts them in position to be a rally point for group activities like bike rides or runs. As a gathering spot, Legacy Parks and other outdoor organizations can now take advantage of the atmosphere and location of Balter Beerworks to help increase the recreational opportunities in the West Jackson Avenue corridor.

Balter Beerworks is a local concept created by Knoxvillians and beer enthusiasts Blaine Wedekind and brewer Will Rutemeyer. The Balter Beerworks experience is designed to be different from the typical “brewpub” and includes a comfortable, upscale atmosphere complete with front porch dining, a breezeway, and an outdoor beer garden. Balter provides fresh, locally sourced food, handcrafted beer made on-site, as well as unique cocktails and a quality wine selection.



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SI Allen boat

New Mutton Hollow Landing Increases River Access

SI Ribbon CuttingKnox County’s Seven Islands State Birding Park now has a new and improved public boat launch on the south side of the French Broad River thanks to a unique partnership between Legacy Parks Foundation, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, Tennessee State Parks, TVA, and Knox County.

The ribbon cutting at Mutton Hollow Landing on November 18 was part of an initiative to increase public access to rivers and promote the state’s “blueways” or river trails. Tennessee now boasts 20 blueways connecting people, parks, and communities by waterway.

“Water trails, like greenways, give people an opportunity to get out an enjoy nature,” said Jane Polansky, Tennessee State Scenic Rivers Administrator. “Since 2009 we’ve been able to connect seven state parks to blueways,” she added.

The refurbished road, parking area, and boat launch at Mutton Hollow is located on 40 acres of Seven Islands State Birding Park on the southern side of the French Broad River. TVA provided the funding for the environmental review and materials and Knox County employees provided the labor.

“This project is an example of successful partnerships across multiple organizations with a singular goal – to improve access to our beautiful natural resources,” said

Rebecca Tolene, Vice President of Natural Resources for TVA. “And our state park system, like TVA land along the river system, provides the public with opportunities to experience nature first hand,” she added.

SI Allen boatCreating more access to Knoxville’s three rivers is a Legacy Parks Foundation priority for 2016. Carol Evans, Executive Director, said they are currently working with TVA and the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency to develop additional launch locations along the Holston and Tennessee rivers.

Allen Gillespie, owner of 3 Rivers Angler, was excited to be the first to use the launch to get out on the river as soon as officials cut the ribbon.


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Win an REI Adventures Pacific Crest Trail Adventure Trip!

Screen Shot 2015-11-02 at 5.18.34 PMLegacy Parks is auctioning a trip of a lifetime on the Pacific Crest Trail in northern California – part of the same trail Cheryl Strayed wrote about in her memoir Wild. The online auction will support Legacy Parks’ work in our community.

For the next two weeks, November 4 through November 18,  you can bid to win the three-day REI Adventures backpacking trip in the Mount Shasta region of northern California. The winning bid will be announced on November 19.


The Pacific Crest Trail trip will rejuvenate your spirit and ignite inspiration on this beautiful backpacking expedition with professional instruction and guiding. The winning bidder will enjoy three days of backpacking while honing their skills with help from expert local guides, relaxing, swimming, and exploring the lakeshore camp sites, and summiting the tallest of the Klamath Mountains.

Plus, you’ll receive a signed copy of Wild, Cheryl Strayed’s memoir of her time on the Pacific Crest Trail, to get you ready to hike.

And best of all, every penny spent for the trip benefits Legacy Parks Foundation and our work to build amazing trails and preserve incredible views in our region.

Treat yourself to a trip of a lifetime or give a gift to someone special!

Bid online now at!

(Airfare not included. By bidding you agree to your name being used in the announcement by Legacy Parks Foundation and/or REI.)


REI Adventures has offered adventure travel trips for more than 25 years. Our goal is to get people outside!Whether you dream of cycling the winding roads of Zion National Park, exploring the unique flora and fauna of the Galapagos Islands, trekking through the Himalayas, or joining us for a close-to-home weekend getaway, we’re here to help you live that dream.

With more than 150 different trips on every continent, you’re sure to land on the trip of a lifetime, every time you travel with us.




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Knoxville Wins Top Towns Contest

BRONovThe wait is over! Blue Ridge Outdoors magazine has named Knoxville their 2015 Top (Big) Town in their annual online contest. The race was intense this summer as Knoxville competed against Durham, Atlanta, Chattanooga, and Charleston, West Virginia. The magazine hit newstands October 30 with the announcement. In addition to Knoxville, Roanoke (VA) was named Top Mid-Sized Town and Franklin (NC) was named Top Small Town.

The writer for Blue Ridge Outdoors stated, “…perhaps even more unique than the city’s close proximity to recreational resources is the vibe of present-day Knoxville, a feeling of progression and unity that can most aptly be described with one word: collaboration.”

Our Urban Wilderness had a big part in making this happen. Whether you want to hike, bike, paddle, or just enjoy nature, as the article says, “you might be surprised by what this Southern metropolis has to offer in the way of outdoor adventure.”


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Top Knox Header

Urban Wilderness Wins Mercury Top Knox Award

Top Knox HeaderReaders of the Knoxville Mercury chose our Urban Wilderness as the “Top New Thing in Knoxville” in the Top Knox 2015 poll. According to the Mercury, the award “honors the institutions that truly make Knoxville unique.” The Urban Wilderness was also a runner up in other categories, including Top Bike or Walking Trails and Top Secret About Knoxville.

In the Mercury’s description of the Urban Wilderness, the paper notes this new thing really isn’t. “It’s perhaps ironic that the urban wilderness wins in the “new thing” category, because it’s been here all along, although often out of sight or inaccessible in private hands. Thanks to efforts by nonprofit Legacy Parks, the Appalachian Mountain Bike Club, the city and the county, these islands of green have been connected by trails, including 42-miles of paths along the South Loop, that feature everything from river views to old quarries and hilly forests.

In addition to the Urban Wilderness recognition, Legacy Parks was runner up in the Top Nonprofit Community Group! Thanks to all the readers of the Mercury for supporting Legacy Parks.



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Path thru the trees

Legacy Parks Prepares to Give River Bluff to City

Path thru the treesLegacy Parks will soon convey the 70-acre River Bluff property on the southern ridge overlooking the Tennessee River with an excellent view of downtown to the City of Knoxville for a new public park. Legacy Parks Foundation acquired the land in 2009 after raising $1.5 million to protect the ridge from development.

The new park, on the site of the Battle of Armstrong’s Hill during the Civil War, will become part of the planned Battlefield Loop of the Urban Wilderness that includes Fort Higley, Fort Dickerson, and Fort Stanley.

“The views from the ridge are really amazing,” said Carol Evans, Executive Director of Legacy Parks. “To the west you can see as far as Sequoyah Hills, and to the east, the downtown skyline and even House Mountain in the distance.”

The land will be given to the city by the end of this year. Plans for more trails, connections to the other parks and eventually to the south waterfront development are in the future.

Please note: The property is not yet open to the public.


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