City officials to go rafting in the name of research

It might not be Fall Break just yet, but city officials want to take a holiday weekend anyway, even if it is also for work, and they plan to go rafting.

Elizabethton Parks and Recreation Manager Mike Mains said the trip is a way to see how other communities utilize their natural resources to create opportunities for local and regional recreation, all while utilizing the resources nature has blessed to the region.

“When you look at Elizabethton, you are blessed to have amazing natural resources,” Mains said.

He said Parks and Recreation is always looking for new ways to utilize local resources, particularly to encourage recreational activities, and water activities are high on that list.

Mains and others currently plan to go to the Nantahala Outdoor Center in Bryson City, North Carolina, where they will go down the river and see how the region utilizes its river for recreation.

“We want to look at how it has improved the local economy,” he said. “I have heard it is a wonderful resource.”

Elizabethton’s Doe and Watauga Rivers, he said, provide many possibilities for similar recreation.

“We can come in and create features that would create additional use by kayaks,” Mains said. “There is a possibility of increasing usage by the local population and creating a regional draw.”

He said part of the motivation is to learn how other regions are utilizing these resources, an adaptability game he said is vital to the job.

“For all of us, it is a learning process,” Mains said. “I learn something every day. It is very motivating.”

He said the trip is part of how they “do their homework,” obtaining new ideas and seeing new opportunities.

“We can learn something more about this sport,” Mains said. “Our job is to gather the information. We always want as many recreational facilities as possible.”

The trip to North Carolina comes with the department’s continued partnership with the Surf Betsy Advisory Board, which has encouraged water-based recreation spots for the past several years.

“What we are doing is changing some of the features of the river that would create play,” Mains said.

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