Roy Arthur, watershed coordinator for Knox County, is a student of Beaver Creek. He has written grants, worked with property owners and developed stormwater demonstration projects to improve water quality in the creek, which extends from the Gibbs community through Halls, Powell and Karns on its way to Melton Hill Lake.
Now, the Beaver Creek Kayak Club is coordinating efforts to clear the creek for navigation by kayak or canoe.
The club is Karns-based, but open to membership countywide. Vice president Jordan Harless met with Enhance Powell in May to offer support. The president is Charlie Austin.
Harless said those interested in exploring the sport can rent kayaks or canoes from local outfitters.
On May 26, Roy Arthur, Mayor Tim Burchett and several members of the kayak club were at Harrell Road Stormwater Park off Emory Road. The park is a demonstration project developed by Arthur to filter stormwater runoff. The land was donated by developer Scott Davis. The group dedicated both the park and a five-mile stretch of Beaver Creek designated as the county’s first water trail.
The trail starts at the Harrell Road Park and ends at Northwest Sports Complex in Karns. Paddlers should drop a vehicle at the Karns Senior Center to use at the end of the trail.
WBIR-TV taped footage of kayakers on the creek following the dedication. http://www.wbir.com/news/local/knox-countys-beaver-creek-blueway-open-to-paddlers/443275673. It’s got the feel of the Smoky Mountains just minutes from Emory Road.
According to the WBIR website, Knox County Department of Engineering and Public Works employees have spent years clearing debris jams and constructing a ramp at Harrell Park so small boats can access the creek.
Dennis Irwin with Knox County Stormwater said the creek has several small rapids and lots of placid water for paddlers to enjoy. Arthur and Irwin were in Powell June 20 to meet with residents.
Laura Bailey volunteered to talk with property owners along the creek.
County crews identified and mapped 27 obstructions between Central Avenue Pike and Clinton Highway, about 5.5 creek miles. Arthur said one was 15-feet high.
These are not beaver dams, but are formed when a tree, its roots loosened by erosion, topples into the creek. It then traps floating limbs and other debris to form an obstruction. Bailey said she once found a commode that washed up on her property. “You won’t believe what people will throw in the creek.”
Arthur said property owners sometimes cut a tree and throw sections into Beaver Creek. “We’ll find sections of wood with cut marks on both ends.”
The Harrell Road Stormwater Park is a neat spot to visit whether or not you launch a boat. It has two constructed stormwater wetland ponds, a rain garden, native vegetation and a three-quarter mile walking trail.
Arthur said creation of the park had the unanticipated benefit of reducing flooding on Harrell Road, which has remained open during normal rains since the park opened.
Removing obstructions will benefit upstream landowners by enabling the water to flow during heavy rains.
Halls Business & Professional Association is working with Knox County to install a kayak put-in near Marco’s Pizza on Afton Drive at Hwy. 33 with parking on the former southbound bridge.