Nearly 1,000 civic, business, and community leaders gathered yesterday to support Legacy Parks Foundation at its annual Legacy Luncheon for the Parks. The event featured comments by Rick Ridgeway, the mountaineer and vice president of the apparel company, Patagonia, and announcements from Legacy Parks. It was held along the bank of the Tennessee River at UT Cherokee Farm.


Ridgeway’s visit to Knoxville is a natural fit, as he joined Legacy Parks Foundation to celebrate a year of accomplishments and future plans for the creation and preservation of East Tennessee’s outdoor recreation opportunities. The Legacy Luncheon for the Parks is the organization’s only major fundraiser event each year, and proceeds support Legacy Parks’ work to create more parks, more miles of trail, and better access to our waterways.


Attendees learned of Legacy Parks Foundation’s new developments including the organization receiving a grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission to create the implementation strategy for the next link of the greenway connection from Maryville to the Smokies. In addition, the organization announced that Dr. and Mrs. Collier would donate their family land to Legacy Parks Foundation this year so it may become a public park named Collier Preserve.


In the last year, Legacy Parks strengthened its collaborations with several organizations and won grants to develop a gift of land from the Wood family into the Baker Creek Preserve. Over the summer, Legacy Parks opened Baker Creek Preserve and its seven multi-use trails, built a pedestrian bridge connecting the Preserve to the 42 miles of trail in Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness, started construction on a kids-only bike trail and skills area, created a trail connection to South Doyle Middle School, and developed plans for a stunning playground and resting space.


Carol Evans, Legacy Parks Foundation Executive Director announced that earlier this month, Knoxville City Council voted to accept Legacy Parks’ gift of the Baker Creek Preserve, “so that it may become the next city park and the new destination for so many to enjoy.”


This new recreation area at Baker Creek Preserve connects neighborhoods, schools, and businesses, further improving the quality of life and recreation opportunities in Knoxville. Luncheon attendees received the new “KUW” bumper stickers to display support for Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness and the “BCP” sticker was introduced to represent that special tract of land at Baker Creek Preserve.


Generous organizations from local groups to international businesses partnered with Legacy Parks through sponsorships of the Legacy Luncheon for the Parks. This year’s luncheon was presented by Pilot Flying J and sponsored by Texas Instruments, UCOR, Bob’s Trails, Trees & Gardens, Bryant Research, Gulf & Ohio Railways, Home Federal Bank, Planet H2O, Robin Easter Design, SoutEast Bank, The Trust Company, and The University of Tennessee Medical Center.