It’s been a great year at Legacy Parks Foundation

Carol EvansAround Town

We’ve built trails, constructed parks, created access to our rivers, leveraged resources … and donations … and manpower … all with the goal of leaving East Tennessee better than we found it.

To date, Legacy Parks has raised over $6 million for parks, trails and greenspace, added over 500 acres of parkland in Knox County and helped protect over 1,000 acres of forest and farmland in East Tennessee.


We are fortunate to do this work in partnership with those who share a passion for preserving our natural assets and creating recreational opportunities. This year we made new partners in the region who share our collective goals of making outdoor recreation an economic driver for East Tennessee.

In partnership with the Oak Ridge community and the Department of Energy we secured easements to construct two new trails on DOE land in Oak Ridge – land dedicated for recreation and revitalization. Our partnership with Blount County and the cities of Maryville, Townsend, and Alcoa to move forward the construction of a greenway connecting Maryville and Knoxville to the Smoky Mountains got a significant boost last month when the Blount Partnership declared this effort an important economic development initiative. They know that $1 invested in parks, trails and greenways generates a $7 return on investment. They recognized that such amenities are key to attracting and retaining a solid workforce. People want to work where the can live happily – and East Tennessee certainly is that place.

We made new partners as we looked to not only help improve our economy but improve our health, especially the health of our children. We are proud to announce that through the generosity of the Trinity Foundation we created the first playground in the region for middle school-aged children. We hope this new “play forest” at South Doyle Middle School will provide a unique model for schools across the region.

We were again reminded that Knoxville’s history and growth is tied to the river and to our waterways. James White initially settled Knoxville along the French Broad River – the third oldest river in the world – just above where it joins the Holston River to form the Tennessee River. This year Legacy Parks launched the Head of the Tennessee Initiative to protect the shoreline of and create great public access to the French Broad and Holston rivers. Our first step was the acquisition of the historic McBee Ferry Landing on the Holston River, protecting historic land in the heart of the civil war battle site that offers much needed access to the river along a 22-mile stretch with no public access. The property will become a Knox County park for all to enjoy. We are grateful to TVA, Knox County, and the Tennessee Heritage Conservation Trust fund for partnering with us to make this possible.

Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness – along the Tennessee River and in the heart of our city – remains our passion and our priority. This year we continued the steady work we began nearly 10 years ago of creating new connections, new access and new recreational opportunities in this South Knoxville outdoor destination. Reinvigorated neighborhoods, new businesses and an abundance of out-of-state license plates affirm that great parks and trails make for great communities.

We are grateful to so many for their support of Legacy Parks. Together we can do impactful work with sustaining benefits for many generations to come. Happy Holidays!

Carol Evans is executive director of Legacy Parks Foundation.

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