A “Duck River Blueway” may be coming to Hickman County. Mayor Mark Bentley announced that the county has been awarded a grant from the Tennessee Department of Health to study the potentials of a water trail on the Duck River in the county. (Download the official news release.)
Expanded Recreational Opportunities
Mayor Mark Bentley said that Hickman County was the first of 35 grantees in the program to determine the feasibility of a recreational water trail. “A blueway along the Duck River can offer opportunities for paddling trips ranging from a couple of hours to all-day or even overnight excursions. This new water trail will complement other park and recreational facilities and extend services into parts of the county with fewer recreational opportunities.”
Cooperation With Land Owners
Mayor Bentley points out that the voluntary project will not affect property rights of landowners along the river. Property owners will still be able to post their land against trespassing as they do now. The county may ask a few to either sell or lease small parcels needed for river access, but the county will not acquire land through eminent domain.
The Planning Process
The Nashville firm, Pawpaw Partners, will field a project team led by Richard Quin to complete the study. Members of the project team, which includes local resident Marshall Spencer from the Swan Creek area, are all familiar with the river in the county and are members of the Duck River Watershed Association. The team will work closely with Tennessee Scenic Rivers Association, a statewide river conservation and advocacy group, on designing safe access areas capable of withstanding the river’s notorious seasonal floods and fluctuations.
The team will evaluate existing and potential access points this fall with the goal of locating the points about seven miles apart ideally spaced for canoes and kayaks. The blueway may not be continuous along the 73 miles of river in the county depending on the cooperation of landowners and the suitability of sites.
The team will use both a paper and an online survey this fall as well as a public meeting to discuss preliminary findings and gather public comments. The feasibility plan, to be completed in the spring of 2019, will assess existing access points, note improvements needed, develop a safety plan for first responders, report on funding sources, and develop strategies for marking and promoting the blueway.