Visits to Seven Islands Wildlife Refuge over the past several years rapidly turned this wildlife sanctuary into one of my all-time favorite Tennessee natural areas.
Encompassing more than 410 acres along the French Broad River, this open grassland habitat is planted with native grasses, wildflowers, shrubby fruit-bearing plants, and trees that provide the favored habitat and food sources for many declining grassland bird species. It was here that I became acquainted with several new species of warblers and sparrows, learned about bird banding and participated with the Knoxville Chapter of the Tennessee Ornithological Society (KTOS) bird banding team in gathering information about the birds that breed and winter on the refuge.
Today I had the pleasure of attending the Legacy Luncheon for the Parks which took place beside the French Broad River at Seven Islands Wildlife Refuge. Speaking to a record crowd of over 700 people who were present to support the work of the Legacy Parks Foundation, special guest, Governor Bill Haslam, announced that Seven Islands Wildlife Refuge is becoming Tennessee's 56th state park and the first in an anticipated series of State Birding Parks to be established across Tennessee.
Legacy Parks Foundation Board Chair, Chad Youngblood (below left), honors Pete and Linda Claussen for their generous and dedicated efforts in developing the refuge and fostering its transformation into Seven Islands State Birding Park.
Among others, Wayne Schacher (below left), former refuge land manager and KTOS member, was recognized for his years of work on the refuge restoring native warm-season grasses, enhancing riparian and wetland areas, and developing habitat diversification for the benefit of wildlife species on the refuge. In addition to the recreation value of nature trails and a river ramp for launching kayaks and canoes, the refuge has historically offered educational and research opportunities. KTOS has conducted bird banding studies on the refuge for many years.
It was a special honor to be asked to create a watercolor to commemorate this event for the Legacy Parks Foundation. The subject of that watercolor is a beautiful warbler that we often see and hear on the refuge--a Common Yellowthroat.
Below you see one of the signed and numbered limited edition prints that decorated the tables at the luncheon.
Seven Islands Wildlife Refuge
Seven Islands - Outdoor Knoxville with map
Legacy Parks Foundation
Seven Islands articles published in The Tennessee Conservationist Magazine
Bird banding at Seven Islands Wildlife Refuge
Knoxville Chapter, Tennessee Ornithological Society
Tennessee State Parks
WATE news coverage with video
Report from Chattanoogan
WBIR video coverage