SPANNING 284 miles long, with 87 miles landing in Bedford County, the famous Duck River is where visitors and locals alike enjoy fishing, family picnics, and kayaking, among many other activities. According to Executive Director of Tennessee Duck River Development Agency Doug Murphy, the river is a freshwater system that contains 153 species of fish and 54 species of mussels, making it the most biologically diverse river in North America.
He said, “It’s worth a trip just to see the beauty of Duck River and enjoy the wildlife.” As a young child, Fire Chief Mark Thomas said he remembers fishing at the river in the 70’s and said, “It’s always been a very attractive river.”
Thomas said he would often go to the river to fish, enjoy the peace of the river, and see its creatures. Along with its peaceful and calm surroundings, the river is a safe environ- ment for families to enjoy. Thomas reports that Duck River is a class one river, which means there aren’t a lot of rapids, and for the most part the water is calm, but it is important to note that after a flood, the river changes. They have set a lim- it to 500 Cubic feet per second (CFMs). Once it gets above 500, they consider it too dangerous for beginners to kayak on the river. Under 500 CFMs are deemed to be normal flows. Thomas said visitors should be aware of low-head dams that lead kayakers to dangerous territory.Thomas reports they are working with legislation to fund a signage and trash pick-up program. They would also like to develop an app that notifies visitors when water flow hits more dangerous levels. Visitors need to have proper water equipment and let loved ones know where they are when visiting the river.
Thomas said that cell phones are the best means of communication for river tourists. The next plan is to mark the bridge and create signage to notify visitors about how long it will take them to get from one point of the river to another.
The SBCF and Bedford County Public Safety part- nered with Art teachers Megan Straub and Angie Jackson to create the artwork for the River Life Project: A special- ty license plate honoring the Duck River.The funds raised from the sale of the specialty license plate will help fund the river rescue program. -GN