Tennessee Paddlesports Association

Growing, Protecting, Supporting Tennessee's Paddlesports Businesses

Our Mission

To grow, protect and support Tennessee's paddlesports outfitting businesses by improving members' financial viability, ensuring a fair and reasonable regulatory environment and enhancing members' ease of doing business.

Governor Signs SB0665.  

Senate Passes SB 665/HB 1328.  Establishes Advisory Committee on TWRA Regulations and Fees.

Governor Lee signed SB0665 on May 10th, which establishes an advisory committee to work with the TWRA on regulations and fees.  A copy of the bill as amended can be found here: Haile amendment.pdf

TWRA regulations approved by the the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission and amended by SB0665 become effective November 11, 2019.  Most of the regulations will not become effective until 2020.  Some regulations have been in effect for a while and will be enforced, such as boating safety and DOT regulations.  But permit applications will be accepted sometime after the effective date for the 2020 calendar year.  No reporting requirements are expected this season.  

A fair amount of debate accompanied passage of SB665.  Senator Hensley expressed concern that the Advisory Committee might be a rubber stamp for the TWRA.  Senator Haile explained that a majority of the members will have to be paddlecraft rental outfitters.  Senator Massey said the fees proposed initially were "astronomical".  TPA had commented on the fees proposed in November 2018 and said that they were illegal.

TPA will work throughout the next year coordinating input from members to provide a unified position on TWRA regulations and fees.  The legislation postpones fees until July 1, 2021, which will have to be implemented by rule-making and therefore be subject to approval by the legislature and Government Operations Committees.  We also need to educate legislators to reverse some of the negative image promoted by adversaries of paddlesports.  The orientation required by the TWRA has some issues, which need to be addressed.

Your support for TN Paddlesports Association made this victory possible.  Without your foresight, your business would have been without organized advocacy.  

TPA members receive regular updates and detailed information on compliance with TWRA regulations and much, much more of benefit to your business.  We help members save money .  Are you a professional paddlesports outfitter or vendor?  Join us today, we need your help and you need TPA!

Watch the latest TWRA Commission meeting on potential rules affecting paddlesport outfitters

  • January 24, 2019 5:29 PM | Dawn Nelson (Administrator)

    Permits to be required with new regulations

    On January 18, 2019 the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission voted to require paddle craft rental outfitters to obtain a permit from the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency before operating on the State's waters.  Regulations will also be attached to the permit, which has a term of one year and may not be renewed for failure to provide the information required with the application. 

    While no fees are attached to the regulations for now, Commissioners vowed to apply the fees later along with additional regulations.  The approved regulations require all outfitters to report water rescues which require more than first aid, the number of rental boats in their fleets and launches.  Parking at TWRA ramps will be regulated. TWRA will approve the orientation provided to customers, which is a concern since the agency has no experience with paddlesports.

    The regulations have to be approved by the Tennessee General Assembly before they can be enacted.  TPA is considering alternative legislation.

    Fees and river specific regulations are expected to come later.  The regulations are supported by the Tennessee Wildlife Federation, which believe paddlers should be paying "impact fees".

    The regulations come after legislation was pushed through the Tennessee General Assembly late in 2018, authorizing the TWRA to regulate "all aspects" of paddle craft rental outfitters operations.  The legislation exempted outfitters in or adjacent to the Cherokee National Forests and in state parks.  College and university programs are also exempted by TWRA.

    TWRA proposed extensive regulations in August 2018 at a TWRA Commission meeting. Following that meeting outfitters formed The Tennessee Paddlesports Access Coalition, which has since become the Tennessee Paddlesports Association.  The goal was to modify the proposed regulations.  TPA submitted comments to the TWRA, including legal analyses, and participation in an Advisory Committee.

    Many outfitters thought the fees proposed in August would put them out of business.  TPA's response generated more than 2,000 letters opposing the regulations, which were sent to members of the General Assembly, who expressed surprise at the extensive TWRA regulatory proposals.  TWRA was attempting to collect fees at ramps and launch areas it did not own or manage, for example.

    As growth in revenues from hunting and fishing license sales decline, many state fish and wildlife agencies are looking for non traditional sources of revenue.  While TPA agreed to the permit fee and some reasonable fee for use of TWRA ramps, we do not believe paddlers should pay the agency to paddle the State's navigable waters.  At the most recent Commission meeting, the Chairman also asked private boaters if they would be willing to pay fees as well.  The hostility some Commissioners expressed toward paddlesports was alarming. One Commissioner even suggested TWRA investigate closing ramps to outfitters.

    The Tennessee Paddlesports Association, an organization made up of many of the state's paddlecraft rental outfitters, has hired a lobbyist and law firm to assist with modifications to the legislation authorizing the regulations, which are unprecedented.  We are also developing best practice guidelines to promote responsible, shared use of Tennessee waterways.

For more information about this issue check out our Legislative Issues page

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Paddlesports Outfitters help Tennesseans and visitors reconnect with nature and truely enjoy the beautiful rivers and lakes throughout Tennessee. 

Tennessee Paddlesports Association, PO Box 32083, Knoxville, TN 37930   



TN Paddlesports Association is a non-profit corporation

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