Group's focus is outdoor tourism opportunities | News | paducahsun.com – Paducah Sun


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Thunderstorms. High 84F. Winds light and variable. Chance of rain 70%. Locally heavy rainfall possible..
Partly cloudy with late night showers or thunderstorms. Low 72F. Winds light and variable. Chance of rain 40%.
Updated: August 5, 2022 @ 2:47 am
Tennessee RiverLine of Paducah-McCracken County hosted 30 paddlers for a free paddling event on the Clarks River and Tennessee River in July with plans to host another paddling session later this month. Community members met on Tuesday to discuss how to plan and promote outdoor tourism opportunities such as this paddling event.

Tennessee RiverLine of Paducah-McCracken County hosted 30 paddlers for a free paddling event on the Clarks River and Tennessee River in July with plans to host another paddling session later this month. Community members met on Tuesday to discuss how to plan and promote outdoor tourism opportunities such as this paddling event.
Community members gathered on Tuesday to form a focus group with the goal of discussing local and regional opportunities for outdoor recreation and outdoor tourism.
Around 20 people interested in different sectors including tourism, recreation, and wildlife preservation shared some of the initiatives they are working on to promote outdoor activities in Paducah, McCracken County and the surrounding western Kentucky region. They also bounced around ideas for how folks could help one another with current initiatives and what future projects they could collaborate on.
Mary Hammond, executive director of Paducah Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB), said the meeting was a good opportunity for collaboration and figuring out how these different organizations could help support and promote each other.
While many of the focus group members are invested in bringing in tourists to take advantage of outdoor activities in the area, there was also a focus on how to market new and existing opportunities to those who live in the area and are searching for something new to try.
With the area’s identity built on its proximity to rivers, focus group members brought up existing kayaking and canoeing opportunities that could be marketed more toward area residents to let them know about these activities.
Rhonda Lamb, Four Rivers Basin Coordinator and part of the Jackson Purchase Foundation, said there are three launching points for paddlers in McCracken County along the Clarks River, and two more landing sites will soon be added in the region. Lamb said Jackson Purchase Foundation’s annual float day with a guided tour of the Clarks River is coming up on Sept. 10.
Jeff Canter, part of the local leadership team for Tennessee RiverLine of Paducah-McCracken County, said the group received a fleet of kayaks from Tennessee RiverLine to assist those without access to a kayak, and has seen increased attendance at two of its free paddling events in June and July. Another paddling session is set for Aug. 20 with registration needed by Aug 10.
Susan Edwards, owner of Wildhair Studios’ Rock Shop in downtown Paducah, said that she has noticed an increase in foot traffic from riverboat tourists compared to recent years. Fowler Black, Paducah CVB director of sales, said riverboats are scheduled to port in Paducah over 60 times in 2022, including 15 scheduled stops in August. Black said riverboat voyagers and staff consistently rate Paducah as one of their top, if not the top, destinations.
Black was optimistic about members of the focus group being able to work together to promote and collaborate on outdoor recreational opportunities.
“One thing I do say is that Paducah is an accessible community that has the potential and the ability to work together as a team,” Black said.
Paducah CVB Marketing and Communications Director Liz Hammonds also highlighted the existence of different self-guided tours in Paducah from historical tours to trying out local breweries on the West Kentucky Brewery Hop Trail. There were also discussions of starting other outdoor tours in the city and county, including tours of downtown public art. Lamb added that her organization is also working on creating guided paddling tours to explain the natural history and wildlife of the Clarks River and the river’s historical contributions.
One of the focuses for tour expansion was on Paducah’s connection with the Trail of Tears, where Native American tribes were forcibly removed from their ancestral homelands in the southeastern United States and relocated to present-day Oklahoma. Nic Hutchinson, Paducah planning director, said the city is working with the National Park Service and local Native American tribe members to expand the existing observation site near the floodwall entrance on Kentucky Avenue.
Edwards, who said she searches for specific bird-watching and nature-related travel opportunities, said Paducah could start planning for an influx of visitors in April 2024 who will be trying to catch a view of a total solar eclipse that will pass over the area, possibly more visitors than those who traveled to see the last total solar eclipse to pass over Paducah in 2017.
Jeff Herod, a fish and wildlife biologist with Bacon Farmer Workman, said the region is also rich in natural resource history, which he proposed different agencies could work together to come up with an educational program addressing that topic. Herod also suggested different wildlife programs and partnerships throughout the year, such as working with wildlife groups to set up bat boxes for local bat populations and providing educational programs on animals native to the area.
Follow Hannah Saad on Twitter, @ByHannahSaad or on Facebook at facebook.com/hannahsaadpaducahsun.
Follow Hannah Saad on Twitter, @ByHannahSaad or on Facebook at facebook.com/hannahsaadpaducahsun.
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