Tennessee Outdoor Fun: Fly Fishing to Snorkeling
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The nation just went through some of the toughest economic times in decades, but that didn't stop Americans from heading to the great outdoors. The number of people in the U.S. taking part in outdoor recreation continued to grow through the Great Recession.
According to Jeff Hunter, director of Tennessee Wild, the opportunities are endless.
"Recreation in our national forests and our national parks can be a very inexpensive family activity," he noted. "So for people who are on a tight budget, it's a great thing to do."
As spring nears, Tennessee Wild is offering a variety of outings, many of them free, everything from birding in the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park to a waterfall tour in the Savage Gulf State Natural Area.
Another offering is a fly-fishing clinic for women set for later this month in Townsend. Charity Rutter, co-owner of R&R Fly Fishing, who will help lead the class, said that as more women, and men, get involved in outdoor activities, they in turn develop a greater appreciation for nature.
"Across our country, there's an awareness that has been put out there to protect our environment, and I think the best way to understand how to protect it is to be out in it and experience it, so that you have more of an understanding and a passion for what you're protecting," Rutter remarked.
The protection of Tennessee's wilderness areas and public lands, said Jeff Hunter, is not only important to the health of the environment, but also to the health of the state's economy.
"One of the things we like to do at Tennessee Wild is to interact with the businesses in the gateway communities," he said. "We try to leave a little bit of an economic impact. And according to the outdoor industry, there's more than an $8 billion impact to the Tennessee economy from outdoor recreation."
More information on the lineup of outings is available at the Tennessee Wild website.
The latest figures show that nearly 50 percent of Americans participate in at least one outdoor recreation activity. The top five favorites are fishing, running, camping, bicycling and hiking.