The Thrive Regional Partnership invites residents and visitors of the tristate, 16-county region to explore the area's natural and cultural treasures during the Thrive Bucket List Challenge, beginning on Thursday.
Every week through spring 2018, the Thrive Regional Partnership will share one must-see natural treasure on its Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. People are encouraged to visit the featured natural treasure, then share their photos, videos, and experiences on their social media pages with the hashtag #Thrivebucketlist.
The entire bucket list sits on A Watershed Moment, an online and print map that was created by the UTC Interdisciplinary Geospatial Technology Lab. Printed maps are available at Outdoor Chattanooga, 200 River St. in Coolidge Park.
The 46 bucket list items are the result of three years of public surveys and meetings among the region's conservation, agricultural, and outdoor recreation professionals during the Thrive 2055 visioning process. The list includes three long-distance hiking trails, historic landmarks, vast national forests, canyons and wildlife areas, and places where people can personally experience the rainbow of life that lives in the region's abundant streams, said officials.
"A Watershed Moment really is a bucket list of places that everyone should visit," said Bridgett Massengill, president and CEO of the Thrive Regional Partnership. "To experience them is to know how precious and rare our region's natural treasures are and how important it is that we give them top priority as our region grows."
The Bucket List Challenge is geared toward the resident or visitor who has never experienced the region's treasures. Included are already popular places like the Ocoee River and Chickamauga Battlefield, but there are also lesser known treasures and ways to experience them that many local people may not know even exist.
"One of the most beautiful natural treasures in our region is Alabama's Buck's Pocket State Park, which is known all over the South for extraordinary wildflower displays in the spring," says Thrive's Communications and Outreach Manager Ruthie Thompson. "But I had never visited the park until we began working on the map. A lot of people know about rafting the Hiwassee River, but how many people have gone in the morning at low water to splash around in the shallows on a hot August day?"
Almost all of the Bucket List items are accessible for the general public to experience via a short walk, scenic overlook or family picnic, but there are a small few, like the Walls of Jericho in Alabama, that are only for experienced and fit adventurers.
Ms. Thompson encourages inexperienced adventurers to connect with local outfitters, and parks and recreation programs for guidance. "The outdoor recreation economy is booming in our region," she says. "There are outfitters and guides in every county who are ready to show people around."
"And as always," adds Ms. Thompson, "please leave no trace."