At the recent NOHVCC Great Trails Workshop in North Carolina funded by Trail Trust (trailtrust.org) we had the fortune of meeting Shawn Lindsey, Executive Director, Doe Mountain Recreation Authority. Shawn travelled from Tennessee to participate in the Workshop and brought several of his staff as well. For recaps of the NC Workshop click here and here.
Shawn is looking for help from NOHVCC Partners and land managers on dispersing use – see below to find out how you can help.
We had a chance to sit and chat with Shawn – this is what we found out.
Shawn grew up in Tennessee and spent most of his young life in Bristol, just an hour or so from Doe Mountain Recreation Area where he works now. He has served as Executive Director for six months and is excited that there are opportunities to layout, design and build new trails.
Even before he graduated high school Shawn knew he wanted to have a job where he “worked outside, wore hiking boots, and drove a pick-up truck.” His first foray into making the outdoors his career was to serve as the youngest public works director in Tennessee. His work in three communities included environmental projects, creek restorations, greenways development and other projects. During this time, he “fell in love with park development and trails.”
Immediately prior to taking over the Doe Mountain Recreational Authority Shawn worked at Spearhead Trails in Southwest Virginia where he “got a good education on OHV trail building, design and issues.”
About Doe Mountain
From the Doe Mountain Area website:
Located in northeast Tennessee’s beautiful Johnson County, Doe Mountain Recreation Area features 8,600 acres of protected mountain terrain and trails perfect for four season OHV wilderness adventures. Bring your own off-highway vehicle or rent from one of our nearby providers, then escape into stunning, rugged natural scenery for an unforgettable expedition. Start your weekend getaway here to take in all the area has to offer, including Gentry Creek Falls, Watauga Lake, and the Virginia Creeper Trail.
When asked how those from other parts of the Country could find out more about Doe Mountain, Shawn replied, “The website is the first place to go. There is a trail map and information about where to stay. We do have some upcoming changes to the site coming soon. Users will be able to download maps in GPX files, so check back. And, of course, you can always give us a call.”
The Doe Mountain Recreation Area was originally purchased by the Nature Conservancy to rescue the mountain from a bankruptcy auction and certain clear-cutting of its forests. The Conservancy quickly transferred the property to the State of Tennessee in support of the mountain’s new chapter as a protected, multi-use venue that stimulates the local, rural economy. Shawn indicated that the purpose of the purchase was “to preserve the mountain and allow the mountain to be used for recreation.”
Shawn’s passion shines through when he had the opportunity to talk about education and resource protection, “We hope our area sets the bar for linking learning and trail riding. We ask questions like ‘why can’t a birding trail also be an ATV trail.’ We want to implement education opportunities across the entire trail system so users can learn about the unique history of the area, mountain, and trails.”
He continued, “we perform wildlife studies, plant wildflowers and try to ensure maximum sustainability while providing for fun opportunities for OHV and other forms of recreation.”
A prominent feature of Doe Mountain is the Kettle Foot Fire Lookout Tower. The tower was constructed in the 1930s and was utilized for fire watch until the 1970s. Today it remains standing and can still be climbed by recreationists who will be rewarded with a panoramic view that includes the Blueridge Mountains in Virginia, North Carolina, and Tennessee. Shawn said, “when you look over into North Carolina you can see their ski slopes.”
While the Kettle Fire Tower is well known by locals, fewer people realize there was also a second tower. “We found the remains of a second wood tower and knew it would also be a site that would interest our visitors. So, we built a trail that links the Kettle Foot and the second tower site.” As it stands, the new trail isn’t on the map, but it is open. “We still want to put a few finishing touches on the trail, but it is signed and open for use. We hope to put a raised observation area at the site of the second tower so people can see both sites from one spot.”
Help Shawn Find Ways to Disperse Users
While Doe Mountain is being visited by OHV users, Shawn has concerns that too many enthusiasts are staying too close to the parking area. “We understand that we need to have low trail density and that we need to spread riders out for both safety and sustainability; however, we need ways to entice riders to venture further into our trail system. Some ideas we had are placing informational kiosks along trails, creating other points of interest, providing picnic areas, or marketing other WOW factors, but we would love to hear from the NOHVCC community about ideas that have worked in other areas.”
If you have some suggestions for Shawn, please reach out to us at email@example.com.
Shawn and NOHVCC
Shawn first discovered NOHVCC while working at Spearhead Trails. “I reached out to Mike Farmer who was the NOHVCC State Partner for Tennessee when we were trying to figure out how to get into schools to talk about ATV safety. Mike recommended the Adventure Trails coloring books NOHVCC publishes, we used them, and I have used NOHVCC as a resource ever since.”
Shawn was also at the recent Great Trails Workshop in North Carolina. “I think everyone in this business needs to go to one of these Workshops,” he said. “I learned a lot. While I have read the Great Trails Guidebook, and use it as a resource, the hands-on nature of the Workshop brings everything together. The Workshops teach you how to evaluate and adapt, as it is impossible to prepare for everything you might run into.”
We asked Shawn, “what is the most important thing an OHV enthusiast can do to help create a positive future for OHV recreation?” He replied, “Number one – be a responsible user. We should all be there to enjoy the environment, not destroy it. Also, be in a positive mindset, and don’t bring the issues of the world into the woods. Finally, when you run into someone out here, be like our Appalachian ancestors and be hospitable to visitors.”