Tennessee Paddlesports Association

Growing, Protecting, Supporting Tennessee's Paddlesports Businesses

TWRA Publishes Final Rules for Paddlesports Outfitters

January 30, 2019 8:21 PM | Dawn Nelson

TWRA has published the final rules approved by the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission, which the TWRA will now send to the Tennessee General Assembly for approval.

The notable revisions include:

  • Water rescues are defined but still may be subject to interpretation since rescue is defined as "any occurrence in which, absent intervention, an occupant or operator of a commercial NMV could suffer serious bodily injury or death." 
  • The permit fee has yet to be determined but will not be required for the 2019 season. No other fees are proposed but the Commission has vowed to impose additional fees later.
  • Outfitters using TWRA access points will only be allowed to park in designated areas, which could be a limitation if ample space is not provided.
  • College and university programs are exempt.

Operating requirements include recording keeping information that must be available for inspection by the TWRA.  Those records are listed as 

(a) Number and type of NMV leased or rented each day;

(b) The public access and body of water utilized by an NMV each day, if known;

(c) Number of accidents and/or casualties involving the use of a commercial outfitter’s NMV; and

(d) Number of water rescues each day involving a commercial NMV outfitter’s vessel.

Permit applications must be submitted between October 1 and December 15.  The permit will not be required for the 2019 season since the permit requirement is not effective until October 1, 2019.

Each application shall include, among other information, (it is not clear what they mean by "other information") the following information for each applicant:  

(a) The number of vessels owned by the commercial NMV outfitter that are available for lease or rent;

(b) The waterways of the state on which the applicant intends to operate, if known;

(c) Any public access areas the applicant intends to utilize;

(d) Estimated months of operation;

(e) Tennessee Secretary of State control number, if applicable;

(f) A copy of the applicant’s business license;

(g) A copy of the applicant’s Department of Revenue Certificate of Registration;

(h) Proof of liability insurance; and

(i) Designated representative for the applicant.

It should be noted that the application information and any other information submitted to the TWRA will become public record unless otherwise protected by state law as proprietary.

TWRA also lists vessel and safety requirements, which include logo and names on vessels and requirements for the information to be included in the safety briefing with the methods for providing that information to customers subject to TWRA approval.

Vehicles must comply with all Department of Safety rules and park only in areas designated by the TWRA when using their access areas.  Parking restrictions could reduce outfitters' access to waterways.

Non-renewal of the permit is subject to 1660-04-01-.08


(1) A commercial NMV outfitter’s operating permit may not be renewed for failure to:

(a) Pay the requisite fees;

(b) Provide the necessary application information;

(c) Maintain the information and documentation required by Rule 1660-04-01-.03(2); or

(d) Produce and/or allow for the inspection of any information requested by the TWRA pursuant to Rule 1660-04-01-.03(3).

While these rules still have issues and TWRA's legislative authority still authorizes the agency to regulate "all aspects" of paddle craft rental operations, these rules are much better than originally proposed thanks to the efforts of TPA members who participated in the process.  However, there are still significant problems.  We have a plan to resolve those.

Tennessee Paddlesports Association, PO Box 66, Strawberry Plains, TN 37871   

+1 833 304 6484


TN Paddlesports Association is a non-profit corporation

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