Seven Islands Wildlife Refuge is a Knox County wildlife sanctuary that is currently managed by the Legacy Parks Foundation and Knox County Parks and Recreation. The county will transfer the 360-acre property to the state over the coming months and Tennessee State Parks will begin managing the site in July.
Pete and Linda Claussen’s generous and dedicated efforts in developing Seven Islands were the catalyst for this announcement. Around 15 years ago, the couple bought 200 acres of land and donated it to the county to be preserved as a wildlife refuge. “It is really pleasurable to see something like this reach its potential,” said Linda Claussen.
The refuge is currently used as a wildlife sanctuary, an area for hiking and observation, an educational facility for schools and other groups, a demonstration area for land use and habitat management techniques and a small boat launch for canoes and kayaks. The property is adjacent to the French Broad River and aquatic and riparian habitats support an impressive diversity of wildlife species. Over 183 species of birds have been identified.
“This addition to Tennessee State Parks is the result of a great partnership between TDEC, Knox County, the Legacy Parks Foundation and the Tennessee Department of Tourism Development” Deputy Commissioner Brock Hill said. “This partnership allows us to develop watchable wildlife sites and trails, with Seven Islands being the flagship for a statewide birding tour.”
Tennessee State Parks will be working with the Legacy Parks Foundation to assess the needs of the park and implement a transition plan to take over in July 2014. Seven Islands will become Tennessee’s 56th state park. Both Seven Islands and Rocky Fork will open to the public as Tennessee State Parks in 2014.
The 2013 Legacy Luncheon for the Parks was presented by Humana and sponsored by Pilot Flying J, Carol R. Johnson Associates, Gulf and Ohio Railway, and Robin Easter Design.