Jim Brown, a founding member 31 years ago of the Tennessee River Gorge Trust, has announced his intention to retire as the trust's executive director in the coming year.
Last weekend, the trust began advertising for applications to fill his position, and Brown said Monday that, when his replacement is hired, he will become a consultant to train his successor.
"I love this work," Brown said, "but when all your [life plan] arrows converge on a certain place, you know it's time. We've done our work, and done it frugally, so we still have a budget to keep conserving land in the Tennessee River Gorge. That's some kind of a legacy."
Since its inception, the trust has protected and stewarded more than 17,000 acres of the 27,000 acres of land in the gorge and the river areas around Chattanooga -- preserving both the views and the diversity of animal and plant habitats.
The trust also has developed educational and research programs with local schools to provide access to the Tennessee River Gorge and established Pot Point Cabin as the city's first scientific field station.
Daniel Carter, president of the trust's board of directors, said the retirement announcement is "all about the celebration of Jim's life and ensuring the future of the Gorge preservation."
Carter said a six-member board steering committee is conducting a national search for top applicants.
"After all Jim has done for the organization and his hard work in support of the scenic terrain of the Tennessee River Gorge, we are in full support of his decision to retire," he said. "We are also privileged to have his willingness to help with the organization's transition as a consultant during the next year."
As for what Brown, soon to be 65, will do in retirement, he's not completely sure.
"I've got some things I'd like to do, but Winston Churchill once said, 'Life is what happens when you're making plans,'" Brown said.
"I don't need to make plans. Something will come up," he said.
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