Getting Back To Our Roots

Friday, February 23, 2018 - by TVA Newsroom
When you think about TVA, you think about a lot of things: electricity, economic development, flood control, hydropower, dams, navigation, water quality and much more. But did you know that planting trees to improve both the land and water resources in the Valley was a big part of TVA’s primary mission from the beginning? Listed as priority number two on in the TVA Act of 1933, the agency was “to provide for the reforestation and proper use of marginal lands in the Tennessee Valley.

And so it did.
TVA personnel went to work immediately planting trees throughout the erosion-riddled Valley. By 1949, they had sowed the 200 millionth tree in the region; by 1967, the millionth acre had been replanted.

Past Plantings
By the early 1960s, the forestry program began to emphasize quality over quantity. Tree geneticists started to focus  not only cultivating and planting trees, but cultivating and planting the hardiest, most disease resistant trees.

“They turned their attention to species with high ecological and economic value such as walnuts, sugar maples, chestnuts, hemlocks and oaks,” says Chris Cooper, manager of Natural Resources Management, East Operations for TVA. “They worked to create genetically superior trees that could better survive droughts, blight and pests that periodically challenge the health of the tree species in the southern Appalachian region.”

The 1974 TVA Annual Report said: “TVA maintains one of the few research teams in the U.S. concentrating on the genetics and physiology of high-value hardwood species with emphasis on improving the trees’ genetic potential for growth rate, form and pest resistance. Seed orchards have been established containing selected species that will improve the forest resource base and foster better industrial and economic development.”

Work continued apace, with tree planting on dam reservoirs and other public lands throughout the Tennessee Valley, until 1982, when the program was suspended by TVA, and certain species picked up by the U.S. Forest Service, and—five years later—by the Tree Improvement Program at the University of Tennessee and Tennessee Division of Forestry.

New Trees at Norris
Now, through an initiative led by UT’s Scott Schlarbaum, professor of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries, and TVA’s Chris Cooper and Tim Pruitt, watershed representative, 500 red oak seedlings will be planted in a decimated (by beetles) loblolly pine seed orchard on Norris Reservoir this week. And not just any red oaks. “These trees are a direct legacy from the TVA tree improvement program more than 50 years ago,” Schlarbaum says. “They are directly descended from TVA’s work at Wautaga Lake near the Cherokee National Forest.”

The trees being planted at Norris are about two years old, and are grown from a collection of seeds from the best trees cultivated over many years of work. They were meticulously selected for growth, form and acorn yield, among other characteristics.

“We will bring these to the field, plant them, put up deer cages and other precautions, and study them,” Schlarbaum explains. “We’ll track them, grow them, select the genetically best and eventually collect seeds acorns for general reforestation in the eastern Tennessee River Valley. These are the prototypes for other trees in the future.”

That future will be filled with beautiful, strong hardwoods our children—and their children—can enjoy. “This is a sustainability project that will pay for hundreds of years,” said Mr. Cooper. “It’s not short term; it’s not really for us. It’s for a beautiful Valley ever after.”


USA, UAW Host Youth Fishing Event To Dedicate Piers At Wolftever Creek Boat Ramp On Chickamauga Lake

Kids of all ages wet their lines Saturday at a youth fishing event at the Wolftever Creek Boat Ramp on Chickamauga Lake outside Chattanooga. Hosted by the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance and United Auto Workers Local 42, the free event celebrated a new courtesy pier and restored fishing pier at the site.  Youth received a complimentary fishing rod and reel provided by Pure ... (click for more)

Additional Tennessee Counties Quarantined For Emerald Ash Borer

Three Tennessee counties have been quarantined for Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) after detection of the forest-devastating insect, bringing the total number of Tennessee counties under a state and federal EAB quarantine to 62. Cheatham, Giles, and Maury counties have been added to the list of areas restricted for the movement of firewood, ash nursery stock, ash timber, and other material ... (click for more)

Heavy Rains Flooding Many Roads, Some Businesses

Heavy rains throughout Monday brought water over many Hamilton County roads and into some businesses. The front area of the Mapco in the 8100 block of Standifer Gap Road was a small lake. The Sheriff's Office said, "Drivers in the Middle Valley and East Brainerd Road areas are encouraged to avoid driving in low lying areas. All drivers should exercise caution. "Drivers ... (click for more)

Mountain City Club Considering Sale Of Downtown Club To Developer Defoor

Officials of the Mountain City Club are considering sale of the property at Eighth and Chestnut to a developer. Dan Saieed, club president, said the board was approached by developer Byron Defoor with an offer for the property. He said the club is facing declining membership and extreme  financial issues so is considering the offer. The Defoor group developed the nearby ... (click for more)

Why I'm Voting Republican And So Should You

For much of my life, the commitment to the Democratic Party has puzzled me. I was raised to analyze both sides of issues and to make an intelligent decision based upon that information. The values of self-reliance, hard work, and individual liberty that I grew up with were the same American values that have made this country exceptional. As I have grown older, I have witnessed ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: It’s So Sad For Me

I cannot remember a time in my life when I have been as saddened by such a travesty that has now erupted in the confirmation process that would place Brett Kavanaugh on our Supreme Court. I am sad for every single person who has been touched by this catastrophe, from 85-year-old Dianne Feinstein to Brett’s wife and two young daughters, ages 13 and 10. Not a person, in any way involved, ... (click for more)