A Blueway for Oak Ridge
Two Oak Ridge-based organizations, Advocates for the Oak Ridge Reservation (AFORR) and Tennessee Residents for Wilderness Planning (TCWP), with a mixed historical past of over 70 years of consideration to the pure assets of Oak Ridge, wish to share a imaginative and prescient for our metropolis’s pure property.
Our imaginative and prescient stems from the 2019 Metropolis Blueprint, a residing plan meant to information neighborhood development and improvement in Oak Ridge. The Blueprint concerned in depth citizen participation and displays our residents’ precedence on pure property. Following from the Blueprint, a Pure Belongings Guidebook was lately offered to town.
Oak Ridge is certainly a “Secret Metropolis” and an unusually vibrant small city. Not solely can we host a world-class science facility (and Tennessee’s single largest employer) however, in contrast to different cities of our dimension, we characteristic many facilities starting from a superb college system to a neighborhood symphony and an energetic efficiency theater. We additionally take pleasure in advantages of quite a few neighborhood occasions, festivals, concert events and different actions often discovered solely in bigger communities, in addition to a number of museums and, now, the Manhattan Undertaking Nationwide Historic Park.
Nevertheless, what really units Oak Ridge aside is the wealth of pure alternatives that exist right here. Maybe our greatest secret is that we really are an “Out of doors Metropolis.” On account of town’s distinctive historical past, we’re surrounded by an abundance of inexperienced area that could be a legacy of the Manhattan Undertaking. Greenness units Oak Ridge aside from the haphazardly divided and developed landscapes of the area’s city areas. Along with the in depth open area throughout the metropolis, 30,000 acres of federal land borders the Clinch River. The Clinch River hall has vital scenic worth, helps excessive pure biodiversity and affords myriad alternatives to contribute to the well being and well-being of our residents and to make Oak Ridge a fascinating place to stay. What different cities provide such in depth mountain climbing, rowing, paddling, boating, mountain biking, street biking, snowboarding, fishing, searching, swimming and birding alternatives — all inside metropolis boundaries?
We agree wholeheartedly that our pure property mustn’t stay a secret. We hereby encourage the neighborhood to acknowledge and improve an “Oak Ridge Blueway” from Melton Lake Park to Melton Hill Dam, with Clark Heart Park as a key entry level. The 26-plus miles of the Clinch River cradles our most under-recognized pure asset: a blueway. The Blueway may present better alternatives for residents and guests to understand the huge tracts of forested land bordering the Clinch River, whereas sustaining its treasured pure attributes. Oak Ridge already has energetic fishing and rowing communities, however we even have the potential to simply join the marina space, Haw Ridge, Solway Park, Clark Heart Park and the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Melton Hill Dam with a real destination-type attraction: journey paddling. On condition that Oak Ridge already has extra devoted bike path mileage than Knoxville and surrounding cities, significantly with the distinctive mountain bike services at Haw Ridge, it is smart to diversify our outside choices.
We suggest to boost the Oak Ridge Blueway whereas conserving and defending the pure landscapes that preserve the great water high quality, shoreline surroundings and wildlife habitat loved by all.
Clark Heart Park is a key a part of our imaginative and prescient for a Blueway. This devoted public recreation web site is positioned on the inlet between Freels Bend and Gallaher Bend and has for many years been a preferred lakefront web site for boating, fishing, picnicking, swimming and different leisure actions. A Blueway may use river entry places to service paddlers, for instance, to lease or return kayaks and canoes, and Clark Heart Park is a key entry location between Solway Park and Melton Hill Dam. The U.S. Division of Power (DOE) has owned and operated this park for a few years and wish to switch it to a different entity that will preserve it for public use, however to this point native governments have been reluctant to simply accept it because of prices and liabilities. We see the everlasting safety of the Three Bend Space and a renaissance of Clark Heart Park as two key parts of the Oak Ridge Blueway.
Clark Heart Park must be remodeled right into a public vacation spot park with a singular give attention to the waterfront and its different pure environment. Removing of the ballfields and different infrastructure remaining from the park’s early years as a recreation middle will scale back prices and liabilities. Retaining boating and fishing alternatives whereas making additional enhancements, together with addition of kayak and canoe rental and shuttle concessions, would full the imaginative and prescient of the Oak Ridge Blueway. This Blueway would run by the unfragmented forests and excessive biodiversity of the DOE Reservation. The conservation significance of those forested areas has lengthy been acknowledged and documented by DOE, state businesses and nationwide conservation teams. The Three Bend Space is a 3000-acre tract of explicit worth the place the Clinch River meanders by three giant river bends which are wealthy in historical past, wildlife, habitat range and pure magnificence. In June 1999, the Secretary of Power designated the Three Bend Scenic and Wildlife Administration Refuge Space to be managed for preservation functions as a part of an initiative to guard ecologically invaluable lands on DOE websites throughout the nation. The Three Bends, together with Solway Bend, Freels Bend and Gallaher Bend, are managed for DOE by the Tennessee Wildlife Assets Company. The general public has restricted entry to those areas for searching, mountain climbing and bicycling on the general public greenway path on Gallaher Bend, and for particular guided walks and visits.
The Blueway is a chance to expertise this scenic space with out extra infrastructure that might spoil assets that the Three Bend Space protects. Our organizations are enthusiastic concerning the potential to remodel Clark Heart Park and understand the imaginative and prescient for the Oak Ridge Blueway. Think about an prolonged, all-day, household paddling alternative that features the pure magnificence and wildlife of this unspoiled space. Or a day of household enjoyable that features swimming, mountain climbing, fishing, and paddling alternatives, guided by a Nationwide Park ranger. We’re wanting to work with authorities businesses in any respect ranges, leisure retailers, and different organizations to make our Blueway imaginative and prescient a actuality.
TCWP and AFORR are two conservation organizations primarily based in Oak Ridge.