Middle Fork Bottom Recreational Area holds grand opening
JACKSON, TENN (WNBJ)-
It’s the first day of summer and west Tennesseans have a new place to spend their days enjoying the outdoors, Middle Fork Bottoms recreational area.
The over 1000 achers includes over five miles of paved walking and biking trails, lakes for fishing, and access to the Forked Deer River and it's now open to the public .
The area that is now the recreational area was flood-damaged farmland for many years until the West Tennessee River Basin Authority received a grant to purchase the land and transform it into what it is today.
“I had not seen the site since 2017 when I was working with those original landowners. And so this morning before this event, I did a drive-by with my colleague who was also here at the time, and I almost had tears in my eyes because it looks so different now," said Gabby Lynch the director of protection with Nature Conservancy of Tennessee.
David Blackwood of the West Tennessee River Basin Authority says the goal of restoring the land and giving West Tennesseans access to the outdoors has been achieved, "We've already seen improvements of how floods get managed and removing sediment from the river. And so we're seeing that land go to its highest and best use and it's been a benefit for everybody we knew we wanted to address those two things.”
Gabby Lynch the director of protection with the Nature Conservancy of Tennessee agrees that this is good for the river and for residents, “Now we have this amazing public park that's better for the river. It's stopping all of this soil loss and the erosion and added bonus. We now have miles of paved walking trails so that people can bring their families here and be outside in nature.”
The five miles of walking and biking trails, fishing spots and places to put your kayaks in are just the beginning of what's to come.
Phase one is already complete but there are three more phases planned for Middle Fork Bottom
Phase two includes restrooms and some overlooks and is expected in 2023.
Phase three is a mile-long loop of forested boardwalk scheduled for 2024.
Phase four includes a welcome center but Blackwood says they need the communities to support to receive the funding for it, “The most important part of that is coming out and supporting this area so we can get to where we want to go so just come enjoy it," he said.