Danville Landing Recreation Area Improvements

Houston County, Tennessee

Houston County is located on the eastern shores of the Tennessee River in northern middle Tennessee. The county seat of Erin and the Tennessee River are the primary amenities and economic engines for tourism for the county. Erin is the location of Tennessee’s best recognized Irish Festival that draws 20,000 visitors annually. The Tennessee River Trail Scenic Byway crosses the county; this is a multi-county recreation trail developed through Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) and Federal Highway Administration (FHA) grant funding to create tourism economic development opportunities for the rural counties. Houston County’s location positioned the county for increased tourism revenues if the right amenities were in place to attract new visitors and residents interested in outdoor recreation.

As their first step, county leaders created the Houston County Strategic Plan for Tourism and Recreation to identify and prepare local outdoor recreation amenities so that the county could amplify Tennessee River Trail tourism efforts. The mission statement of the plan is to preserve and enhance Houston County’s unique heritage and natural landscape, provide cultural and natural resource-based recreation, and promote the use of these resources by diverse citizens and visitors. The planning process engaged local and state officials, civic club leaders, residents, and representatives of targeted recreation user groups who created a new shared vision for the community’s outdoor recreation opportunities.

The plan’s main focus was to prepare outdoor recreation amenities as a driver for tourism economic development. A recreational needs assessment and surveys identified the immediate priority as the development of the Danville Landing Recreation Area. Families, along with fishing and camping enthusiasts, were identified as promising markets for Danville Landing’s location. A future master plan and strategic investments at this location would position the county to compete for new tourism revenue, leverage their location on the Tennessee River, and improve the quality of life for residents.  

Danville Landing Recreation Area Improvements

The Danville Landing Recreation Area is located in the community of Stewart and encompasses 56 acres at the end of Hwy 147 in a rural area of the county. This area serves as the main access point to the Tennessee River and Kentucky Lake on the Tennessee River Trail in Houston County. Abundant natural resources provide opportunities such as fishing, boating, camping, hiking, wildlife and eagle watching and picnicking. Community leaders saw the opportunity to increase lakefront amenities at this key location. They built partnerships with the Tennessee Departments of Transportation and Environment and Conservation, the Tennessee Valley Authority, outdoor recreation user group representatives, community leaders and residents that created buy-in for the project and commitment of resources.

In 2013, Houston County received a $64,000 Recreation Trail Grant from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation – Recreation Education Services (TDEC – RES) division to construct a lakeside walking trail, trailhead and ADA accessible restrooms. The $80,000 project was completed with matching funds from TVA and the State of Tennessee’s Tobacco Settlement funds. The Houston County Highway Department also assisted with site improvements by expanding the parking area at the site. Funding for operation and maintenance of the new recreation area was committed by the Houston County Government.

County officials established partnerships with TVA, state departments, and local civic clubs and agencies for additional improvements to and promotion of the Danville Landing area. Marketing and promotion would be coordinated by the Houston County Chamber of Commerce and tourism partners including Tennessee River Trail Association and the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development – Tennessee Vacation Guide, Middle and West Tennessee Tourism associations. A new annual event, Cops and Bobbers, was started by a local TWRA manager at Danville Landing to engage youth in fishing and outdoor recreation. The event is held in conjunction with TWRA’s annual Free Fishing Day for Kids program on the second Saturday each June. This family event has grown to be one of the county’s largest and most popular annual gatherings that engages hundreds of kids, parents, local sponsors, community volunteers and TWRA officials. It includes fishing demonstrations and contests that award fishing and boating prizes for participating children.

In 2016, TDEC – RES awarded Houston County a Local Parks and Recreation Fund (LPRF) grant to create a comprehensive, multi-phase recreation development plan for Dandridge Landing. This planning effort set the course for site improvements also funded through the LPRF grant and matching funding from Houston County’s portion of Tennessee River Resort Act funding. Phase II improvements included the addition of an ADA-compliant bathhouse, construction of primitive camping sites and a new event pavilion, installation of water and wastewater infrastructure, and construction of 570 feet of boardwalk and railings. These improvements attract tourists looking for camping opportunities.   

In 2016, an additional component of Phase II of the master plan was addressed with the goal of enhancing facilities for visiting families with children. A playground was needed at the site for the children of campers and RV tourists. While Danville Landing attracted both local residents and tourists, county leaders sought to further enhance the amenities to attract more families with children, active retirees, younger travelers and school-age children on field trips. The playground and equipment would be designed to blend with the natural environment and the scenic qualities of the Danville Landing Recreation Area. In 2016, Houston County was awarded a $50,000 TNECD Tourism Enhancement Grant (TEG) for the playground that was matched by $2,632 in local funding. In November of 2016, the County Mayor announced the award of a $24,000 grant through the county’s partnership with TVA. These Partnership Project funds would be used to further implement Phase II with a handicap accessible fishing pier and an additional 2,000 feet of walking trails.

Strategic Project Investments

TNECD grant funding leveraged funding from TDEC and TVA, the county’s Tennessee River Act local funding, and local investments to create outdoor recreation amenities in a short timeframe at a relatively low cost to residents. These actions were necessary to maximize the county’s location on the new Scenic Byway and position Houston County to take advantage of upcoming Tennessee River Trial promotions and marketing of outdoor recreation. This strategic use of state and federal grants matched by local Tennessee River Act and county funding to construct amenities included in a well-designed master plan is a best practice for other rural communities.  

Economic and Community Impact

The Phase I and II improvements at Danville Landing Recreation Area completed between 2013 and 2019 accomplished the county’s top asset-based plan priority to create outdoor recreation facilities for tourists to increase the length of their stay while also increasing recreation opportunities for local citizens. Effective marketing of the area and local events like Cops and Bobbers are creating a steady increase in visitors that is benefiting the local economy through increased sales revenues. Potential first year overnight camping usage and revenues include

New Camp Sites 20
Full Capacity Overnight Visitors (20 camping sites X 3 per persons per campsite) 60
Maximum Daily Camping Fees (20 camping sites X $10 per night fee) $200
Potential Annual Camping Fee Revenues (210 camping nights X $200 per day) $42,000
Potential Annual Overnight Camping Visitors (60 Overnight Visitors X 210 Nights) 12,600
Potential Annual Average Daily Food and Gas Revenues (12,600 Campers Staying Overnight for 1 Night @$35.00 per day) $441,000

Project Funding

TDEC Recreational Trails Program Grant and Match (lakeside walking trail, trail head, handicap accessible restrooms) $80,000
TDEC Local Parks and Recreation Fund Grant and Match (master plan, ADA compliant bathhouse, primitive camping sites, event pavilion, water/wastewater infrastructure, boardwalk and railings)   $500,000
TVA Danville Landing Partnership Project  (handicap accessible fishing pier, walking trails) $24,000
TNECD Tourism Enhancement Grant and Match (playground construction and equipment) $52,632
TOTAL DANVILLE LANDING PROJECT FUNDING (Projections for local investments, state and federal grant funding) $656,632

Project Leadership and Partners

Houston County – County Mayor – Project Contact
Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation – Recreation Education Services Director – Project Contact
Houston County Tourism and Recreation Committee
Houston County Chamber of Commerce
Houston County Lions Club
Erin Rotary Club
Tennessee River Trail Association
Tennessee Valley Authority
Tennessee Department of Transportation
Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency
Tennessee Department of Tourist Development
Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development

For more information contact Houston County.

TDEC Local Parks And Recreation Fund (LPRF) Grant Program

The Local Parks and Recreation Fund (LPRF) provides grants to local government entities for the purchase of land for parks, natural areas, greenways, and recreation facilities. Funds may also be used for trail development and capital projects in parks, natural areas, and on greenways. All grant projects must be on publicly owned land. The program is administered by the TDEC Division of Recreation and Educational Services.

TDEC Recreational Trails Grant Program

The Recreational Trails Program (RTP) is a federally funded, state administered grant program that provides grant funding for land acquisition for trails, trail maintenance and restoration/rehabilitation, trail construction, and trailhead support facilities. All grant projects must be on publicly owned land. Funds are distributed in the form of an 80% grant with a 20% match. Local, state and federal land-managing agencies are eligible to apply as well as non-profit organizations that have a written agreement for trail management with an agency. The program is administered by the TDEC Division of Recreation Educational Services.

TNECD and TDTD Tourism Enhancement Grant Program

The Tourism Enhancement Grant was developed to help communities improve their tourism assets and increase tourism-related economic impact through the Governor’s Rural Task Force and Tennessee Rural Economic Opportunity Acts. The program is administered by the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development.

For more information visit the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development and TNECD Community and Rural Development.