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Trail builders cut path along Tellico Reservoir | Environment

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Trail builders cut path along Tellico Reservoir
Trail builders cut path along Tellico Reservoir

A network of trails is taking shape along the Tellico Reservoir.

It's a partnership powered by TVA and carried out by a group of retired folks.

About a decade ago, volunteers formed the Watershed Association of the Tellico Reservoir.

The acronym is WATeR.

Larry Benson is the WATeR president.

"It's good exercise for my heart and my body and it's just a good thing to do for people," he said.

"It's an organization that's dedicated to the conservation of natural resources and clean water," Bob Martin said.

Bob Martin is a former forester and retired National Parks Service park manager.

He helps organize the trail construction on TVA land.

"It's a real partnership and it's just been a wonderful arrangement," he said.

TVA helps develop trail heads, provides some materials, and builds major bridges. The WATeR volunteers do the rest.

They work on the trails three mornings a month. So far, they have completed 23 miles of trails with a goal of 33 to 35 miles.

They build around gullies, across water, and up hills. Sometimes mother nature doesn't cooperate.

"Every time we have any kind of a weather event we end up with having some trees down, branches down, and you have vegetation growing, encroachment on the trail all the time. It makes it hard," Martin said.

Other volunteers adopt trails to maintain what the WATeR volunteers build.

"They do whatever is considered routine maintenance. If they run into a major problem then they let us know," Martin said.

WATeR spends about $3,200 a year on tools and supplies. That's funded with dues, donations, and grants. Volunteer labor makes progress possible.

"It's great exercise for geriatrics is what I tell people," Benson said.

So what's the toughest challenge the trail builders face?

"Get up in the morning," he said.

They wake up, start building, and help trails stretch along the shore of the Tellico Reservoir.

"I feel like I am leaving some kind of a legacy. And it's something that will be used by future generations for years to come," Martin said.

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