From Knoxville, Tennessee, to Paducah, Kentucky, the Tennessee River stretches 652 miles and touches four states — Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi and Kentucky. Its 41,000 square mile watershed is home to more than 4.5 million residents, over half of whom live in communities along its banks.

The valley surrounding the river is home to some of the nation’s most important histories and ecological treasures. Realizing this, a group of river advocates have banded together to build a shared vision for the Tennessee RiverLine – a vision that will include the ideas and suggestions of five pilot communities located along the river, including the Shoals.

“A river of such splendor deserves to be seen and experienced by all,” states a release on group’s website (www. www.tnriverline.org). “The Tennessee River, as one of North America’s great rivers, merits the development of a great river trail.”

The idea is to develop a continuous system of hiking, biking and on-water experiences for the length of the Tennessee River. Supporters believe the trail will have economic, social and environmental impacts on the four states touched by the river, as well as dozens of cities, towns and rural communities located along the river.

As one of the five cities selected as Tennessee RiverLine Pilot Communities, Shoals area residents have a great opportunity to shape the future of this project.

The RiverLine Partnership website calls these community pilot meetings “a critical step in engaging all Tennessee River communities in the development of the Tennessee RiverLine.”

The goal is to identify opportunities for enhanced river recreation and access in the Shoals, and to gain an understanding of how the Tennessee RiverLine Partnership can help local communities realize their visions.

“If you live in a 2019 Tennessee RiverLine Pilot community, keep informed about upcoming Pilot Program activities, participate in the community engagement events, and encourage your friends and neighbors to do the same,” the website states.

“The success of the Tennessee RiverLine is only possible through your support and participation! Join us in making the vision for North America’s next great regional trail system a reality!”

The first in a series of planned workshops locally is scheduled for July 15, according to Carrie Crawford, director of the Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area. Anyone living in the Shoals area is invited to attend.

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