Friday, Legacy Parks Foundation announced its acquisition of the nearly three-acre McBee Ferry Landing property on the Holston River – a launching point and key component of the organization’s Head of the Tennessee Initiative.


Legacy Parks was recently awarded a grant from the Tennessee Heritage Conservation Trust Fund to preserve and enhance this historic site. The Foundation will use a conservation easement to permanently preserve the natural character of the land, and will create access to its recreation potential by conveying it to Knox County for a public park with access to the Holston River. Pairing the grant with funding from TVA and Knox County, Legacy Parks will improve the scenic property with environmental and shoreline preservation measures and additions including interpretive signage, a gathering space and parking for residents and visitors to enjoy.


Carol Evans, executive director of Legacy Parks, made the announcement at the Foundation’s 11th annual Legacy Luncheon for the Parks. For this occasion, nearly 1,000 of Legacy Parks’ sponsors and donors gathered at Seven Islands State Birding Park along the French Broad River – the Holston’s counterpart tributary feeding into the head of the Tennessee River.


“We are thrilled to create more public access to our East Tennessee waterways, and are looking forward to the community making great use of this amazing riverfront property and beautiful stretch of river,” said Evans.


In celebration of Legacy Parks’ work, Alexandra Cousteau, the award-winning filmmaker, National Geographic explorer and global water advocate shared inspiring messages on the importance of preserving our natural water system through careful planning and management. Continuing the work of her grandfather, Jacques Cousteau, Alexandra imparted upon the hundreds of business, civic, and recreation leaders in attendance how they can play a part in preserving and sustaining a healthy Earth for generations to come.



Evans went on to share that the Head of the Tennessee Initiative will continue to help protect the shoreline of and create greater public access to the French Broad and Holston Rivers. The initial piece of land along the Holston is historically and culturally significant as the landing of the McBee Ferry, which was at one time the only connection from south Knoxville to the rest of the city. It was also near the heart of the Civil War Battle of Strawberry Plains. The addition of this park will ensure this significant spot is protected, and will provide much needed access along a 22-mile stretch of river with no other public access.


In addition to news of this acquisition, Evans shared that Legacy Parks continues to strengthen partnerships with the Department of Energy as it secured easements to construct two new trails on DOE land in Oak Ridge this year. The Foundation is also working collaboratively with several entities in Blount County to move forward the construction of a greenway, which will eventually connect Maryville and Knoxville to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The Blount Partnership gave this project a significant boost by declaring it to be an economic development initiative for their organization.


Legacy Parks was also pleased to share that later in October it will cut the ribbon on the first playground in the region built to encourage physical activity in middle school aged children. The generosity of the Trinity Health Foundation, Ross/Fowler Landscape Architects, and the City of Knoxville helped Legacy Parks make this new Play Forest a reality at South Doyle Middle School and Baker Creek Preserve. Its innovative playground design, based on research involving the middle school users themselves, can serve as a model for the region.


Also announced at the Luncheon was the availability of a free Legacy Parks digital emoji sticker keyboard for use in messaging, which was produced by Smallball Media. Legacy Parks is one of the first nonprofits in the U.S. to utilize emojis to drive engagement. The stickers depict outdoor activities with unique Knoxville touches and favorite destinations such as Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness. This emoji keyboard can be downloaded from online app stores.


The Legacy Luncheon for the Parks is the organization’s only major fundraiser event each year, and proceeds help Legacy Parks continue to create more parks, more miles of trail, and better access to our waterways in East Tennessee. The organization and its sponsors, which nearly filled the 1,000-person tent, celebrated the accomplishments of the Foundation’s last year, which continues its track record of more than a decade.LEGACY LEGACY LUNCHEON/3333
Generous organizations from local groups to international businesses partnered with Legacy Parks through these Luncheon sponsorships. This year’s luncheon was presented by Pilot Flying J and sponsored by UCOR, Bryant Research, Cherokee Distributing, Gulf & Ohio Railways, Home Federal Bank, Planet H2O, Robin Easter Design, Scripps Networks Interactive, SoutEast Bank, Texas Instruments, The Trust Company, and The University of Tennessee Medical Center, along with many Table Sponsors listed on