U.S. Forest Service Chief Commits to Working with Hagerty and Local Leaders to Respond to Ocoee Whitewater Center Fire

May 4, 2022

Commitment comes after structure fire last week destroyed the former Olympics facility on the river

WASHINGTON—United States Senator Bill Hagerty (R-TN), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today received a commitment from U.S. Forest Service (USFS) Chief Randy Moore to work with him and local officials to respond to the Ocoee River Whitewater Center in Polk County after a fire destroyed the landmark 1996 Olympics building last week.

“The Ocoee Whitewater Center means so much to my constituents. The Polk County Chamber of Commerce calls it the ‘crown jewel of Polk County.’ Local officials tell me that the beautiful and mighty Ocoee River is the tourism hub that Polk County depends on […] As we enter the busiest season for outdoor recreation in my home state of Tennessee, the local businesses there in Polk County really depend on the tourism that the Ocoee River attracts,” Hagerty said.

According to a May 3 press release, the U.S. Forest Service is focused on security and safety, and these efforts should not impact the status of the river, which is open. The Ocoee is a critical pillar of the local economy.

“Anything you can do to expedite that, Chief Moore, is going to be deeply appreciated by me, and by everyone in the state of Tennessee, and by the many people around the country that want to use that facility […] And in the longer term, do you have a sense of whether you’re going to construct a new building there… where the old facility was?” Hagerty asked.

Moore expressed an inclination to replace the facility and committed to working closely with Hagerty to ensure the Ocoee River remains open for business and to develop plans to respond to the fire.

*Click to photo above or here to watch*