TDEC Announces Restoration and Recreation Area for West Tennessee Floodplain

Monday, April 03, 2017 | 9:36am

The West Tennessee River Basin Authority (WTRBA), an agency within the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC), announced today that an 858-acre floodplain area north of Jackson has been acquired by the state and will be restored to include a recreation area.

“This project will provide an increased level of protection for public roads, agricultural properties, businesses and wildlife habitats during significant flood events,” said Madison County Mayor Jimmy Harris. “It will also contribute to cleaner water in Tennessee’s waterways, positively impacting the health of our natural environment and our neighbors.”

The Middle Fork Forked Deer River streams and floodplains will be restored over the next several years, resulting in improved and naturally functioning stream and wetland ecosystems that span an area greater than the size of New York City’s Central Park.

“The goal of the restoration project is to reduce the flood risk for this area while also bringing entire ecosystems back to their natural function,” said WTRBA Executive Director David Salyers. “Recreation amenities will also be constructed for visitors, including hiking and biking trails, areas for viewing wildlife, waterway access and more. With interpretive signage, there will also be educational opportunities for school groups and the local community.”

The project was conceived and is managed by the WTRBA, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA), and The Nature Conservancy, with assistance from the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, Tennessee Parks and Greenways Foundation, Madison County, the City of Jackson and the Jackson Chamber of Commerce.

“At the outset of this acquisition, we sat down with TDEC, the WTRBA and TWRA, and together developed a vision for the restoration of this riverside property,” said Jeff Fore, West Tennessee Program Director for The Nature Conservancy. “All of our agencies are working together to address flooding and to return this wetland area to its natural state, while providing the community with quality outdoor recreation opportunities.

“Now that vision is taking shape,” Fore continued. “We’re most appreciative to TDEC, the WTRBA and TWRA for their commitment to improving water quality and wildlife habitats.”

A project of this magnitude and scope benefited from the cooperative partnerships of state and local governments, nonprofit partners and passionate community members.

“While the multiple benefits of this project are clear to see, initiatives with this scope and scale do not happen by themselves,” said TDEC Deputy Commissioner of the Bureau of Environment Shari Meghreblian. “This was a thoughtful, deliberate partnership process that required support over time from many partners. We look forward to building upon these partnerships in order to realize our shared vision for Tennessee and specific community improvements.”

The groups plan to complete the restoration work and install the recreation amenities within the next several years.

“The innovative projects in the Jackson Area will be instrumental to our ability to recruit and retain industry in West Tennessee,” Kyle Spurgeon, President/CEO Jackson Chamber of Commerce.

For more information about the WTRBA, visit http://www.tennessee.gov/environment/article/board-west-tennessee-river-basin-authority.