Middlefork Bottoms gets more state funding

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The West Tennessee River Basin Authority received a $400,000 grant from the State of Tennessee on May 6 for work in the Middlefork Bottoms Recreation Area, just south of Three Way.

State government officials were on hand for a check presentation to David Blackwood, the executive director of the river basin authority.

The area is on Sanders Bluff Road, just west of Highway 45 between Jackson and Three Way.

Tennessee Conservation and Environmental Commissioner David Salyers (far right) presents a check for $400,000 to David Blackwood, executive director of the West Tennessee River Basin Authority.  TDEC Recreation Division Director Anne Marshall and State Representative Chris Todd were also on hand for the presentation.

Now that the first phase of the project is complete, it is open and outdoor enthusiasts can come and enjoy the scenery and tryouts.

“Almost five miles of the trails are paved,” Blackwood said. “We have a few spots here and there that need to be paved.

“But all the earthworks and the water points – the bridges and the crossings – are all finished.”

Tennessee Conservation and Environmental Commissioner David Salyers, who was Blackwood’s predecessor as West Tennessee Authority Director, gave the presentation and was able to discuss much of the story of how the project came about in response to the 2010 floods which damaged a lot of levees in the area around the project.

This is followed by the second phase, which includes trailheads and lookouts as well as a visitor center.

The welcome center is currently unfunded, but Blackwood hopes fundraising group Friends of the Middlefork Bottoms can partner with Madison County and the State of Tennessee to fund this.

This is a pond near the eastern edge of Middlefork Bottoms, seen from where the proposed visitor center is planned to be built.  The plan is to keep this pond stocked with fish for fishing purposes.

When complete, Blackwood said he envisions a location with restrooms, an outdoor professional shop, a conference center and a nice gazebo in front of the nearest first fishing pond. eastern end of the area.

The area currently open is 858 acres, but there are an additional 300 acres adjacent to the property where a waterfowl refuge will be developed that will not be as accessible to the public.

“This area was designed and designed to help with flood control, but also to give people here a place to come and enjoy the outdoors,” Blackwood said.

Once Phase 2 is complete, Blackwood hopes for a third phase that will add improvements to the area to make it even more inviting to the public.

Contact Brandon Shields at bjshields@jacksonsun.com. Follow him on Twitter @JSEditorBrandon or on Instagram at editorbrandon.

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