April 25, 2023
Governor Lee Signs Legislation to Limit TWRA's Permitting Authority to Use of Their Boat Ramps and Property
Today Governor Lee signed legislation backed by TPA which limits TWRA's permitting and regulatory authority to use of their boat ramps and property. In other words, you are not required to hold a TWRA permit or be subject to their rules, permits and procedures if you do not use TWRA access points.
The bill's provisions state:
Rule-making for outfitters using TWRA access points will follow. Ironically, TWRA supported this bill after they realized the quagmire of conflicting authorities at the federal, state and local level that outfitters were operating under. This bill establishes clear authorities for use of their property. Kudos to the TWRA leadership for their understanding.
TPA's Executive Director David Brown has over 30 years of experience in permitting issues, which helped in fashioning a credible bill that cleared up these conflicting authorities. The bill passed the Senate and House with unanimous votes in each chamber because it was sensible and because the legislature respected the outfitters who were supporting it.
Special thanks to Courtney Atnip and Nick Crawford at Capitol and 5th Public Strategies for getting this bill through the legislature. And extra special thanks to members of TPA and those outfitters who made significant financial contributions to enable this campaign. Their foresight, intelligence and financial commitments are the foundation for this victory. Without it, this effort would never have gotten to first base.
TPA's mission in support of the industry continues. Please JOIN if you are not a member.
Originally posted in 2022
State Parks Issues CUA Applications for Outfitters
Tennessee State Parks recently issued an online application for a commercial use authorization (CUA) to enable outfitters to provide a variety of recreation services in State Parks to include guided hikes, paddlecraft rentals and other services. The application fee is $300. State Parks requires general liability insurance with limits up to $1 million and commercial auto coverage with limits of $1.5 million for 9 to 15 passenger vans. To view a list of the various services allowed by Park unit and other requirements for the CUA, go to
TDEC Vendor Opportunities - Website contains all relevant info and attachments related to CUAs.
CUA Permit Application - Direct link to the application.
TACIR Hearing December 2nd
TPA's Executive Director will be among the panelist at a hearing conducted by the TN Advisory Committee on Intergovernmental Relations on paddlecraft uses in the state on December 2nd. TACIR is studying the challenges with providing river and lake access Join us.
Among the topics TACIR is considering are
1. the procedural and financial measures necessary to accommodate the increased demand for non-fish-and-game recreational activities and the resources required to manage such activities by TDEC and TWRA;
2. how TWRA-managed resources are being utilized by non-motorized vessels for non-fish-and-game recreational activities, such as paddle boarding, canoeing, tubing, and kayaking;
3. the accessibility to and funding for all non-fish-and-game recreational activities;
4. the annual fees and taxes charged to paddle craft and commercial outfitters in the previous four fiscal years;
5. any duplicative fees charged by TDEC and TWRA, and what action may be taken to eliminate such duplicity in fee structures and their regulatory authority generally;
6. the extent to which customers of non-motorized vessels contribute to revenue derived from the purchase of fishing licenses and registration of watercraft;
7. the amount of funding needed to manage, sustain, and improve access to and the management of non-motor vehicle activities in this state and what fundraising options are available to support non-fish-and-game and other similar activities;
8. what fee structure is most appropriate for recreational users generally, given that the benefits of non-fish-and-game programs are broader than just outfitters, who are already paying sales tax;
9. the feasibility of outfitters who pay additional fees to TDEC and TWRA receiving a credit on the sales tax paid on such fees and whether the local option sales tax should be included in the credit; and
10. what measures TDEC and TWRA can implement to improve their strategic plans, their organizational structures, and the oversight and sustainability of non-fish-and-game-related recreational activities.
Originally posted in 2020
Legislation Authorizes Review of Funding Resources and Strategies to Improve Non-Fish and Game Recreation
Senator Kerry Roberts introduced SB 1080 to amend the Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 4; Title 69 and Title 70, relative to recreational activities including the regulation of commercial paddlecraft rental businesses.
The proposed legislation authorizes the Department of Economic and Community Development to review possible funding resources and develop strategies for improvements for non-fish and game recreational activities, in conjunction with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and the Department of Environment and Conservation, and report its findings to the governor and the general assembly by January 1, 2022.
The bill amends TCA Title 4; Title 69 and Title 70. Title § 69-9-227 deals with the law authorizing regulation of commercial operations that lease or rent nonmotorized vessels. Title 70 covers the authorities and funding sources of the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. Title 4 also covers broad state agency authorities.
The Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency (TWRA) has been developing regulations and permits for paddlesports outfitters since August 2018. These potential permits are one of the biggest challenges facing paddlesports outfitters in 2019.
Here is a timeline of issues surrounding these regulations:
April 19, 2018
TN General Assembly passed SB1335/HB0785
Amendment #2 of this bill stated the following:
"This amendment authorizes the fish and wildlife commission to establish rules, regulations, permits, and procedures regulating all aspects of commercial operations that lease or rent non-motorized vessels for non-commercial use by the public on the waters of Tennessee. The amendment specifies that this authority does not extend to commercial outfitters operating pursuant to and in possession of a permit issued by the United States forest service on waters in and adjacent to the Cherokee National Forest."
Here is the history of this bill and how it formed: