Throughout the month, October has been recognized as ‘Keep the Tennessee River Watershed Beautiful Month’ across the four states of Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, and Kentucky—and there’s quite a bit to show for it.
The results of the month’s celebrations include 22,276 pounds of trash removed, eight proclamations by four governors and four mayors, and 25 award recipients recognized in the 1st annual Ripple Effect Awards presented by Yamaha Rightwaters.
“It’s been inspiring to see so many volunteers, businesses, governments, and elected officials all come together for the cause of the Tennessee River watershed,” said Kathleen Gibi, executive director for Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful (KTNRB).
“We released the slogan, ‘Your River. Your Impact.’ this month, and we’ve seen a diverse network of river champions willing to do what it takes for that positive impact on our river.”
‘Keep the Tennessee River Watershed Beautiful Month’ was kicked off with two large cleanups partnered with the national river cleanup nonprofit, Living Lands & Waters (LL&W). Volunteers were transported to shorelines by five 30-foot-long boats brought in by LL&W staff to supplement KTNRB’s boat. LL&W helped to celebrate National Public Lands Day in Lenoir City, Tenn. on Sept. 28, and then again in Knoxville, on Sept. 29, to officially kickoff the upcoming, month-long celebration.
“The Tennessee River is such a beautiful river and gift to the region!” said Chad Pregracke, LL&W founder and president and 2013 CNN Hero of the year. “There was so much enthusiasm from all the wonderful volunteers that showed up, and we got a lot done."
The two Tennessee cleanups were in large part funded by the Tennessee Department of Transportation’s special litter grant. KTNRB then spent the rest of the month traveling along the river, hosting four additional cleanups within the four states that the river touches.
The river cleanups were sponsored by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT), Yamaha Rightwaters, Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful, Keep Alabama Beautiful, Keep Mississippi Beautiful, Friends of Land Between the Lakes, Kenlake State Resort Park, the City of Guntersville, Knox County Solid Waste, and Hardin County Solid Waste.
The combined seven cleanup events in four states saw 22,276 pounds of trash removed by a total of 171 volunteers. Here’s a quick breakdown of the cleanup totals:
• Saturday, Sept. 28, in Lenoir City, TN 5,903 lbs.
• Sunday, Sept. 29, in Knoxville, TN 3,497 lbs.
• Friday, Oct. 4, in Guntersville, AL 3,158 lbs.
• Saturday, Oct. 5, in Chattanooga, TN 896 lbs.
• Saturday, Oct. 19, in Golden Pond, KY 3,809 lbs.
• Sunday, Oct. 20, in Pickwick Lake, MS 4,318 lbs.
• Tuesday, Oct. 29, in Knoxville, TN (UT class) 694 lbs.
TOTAL 22,276 lbs.
Proclamations by elected officials:
Earlier in the year, TVA tasked KTNRB with pursuing proclamations from the governors of the four states touched by the Tennessee River for the purpose of declaring October as ‘Keep the Tennessee River Watershed Beautiful Month.’ As plans developed, corresponding river cleanups and first annual Ripple Effect Awards ceremonies developed.
Ultimately, the governors of all four states as well as four mayors issued proclamations. Proclamations were made by:
• Governor Bill Lee, Tennessee
• Governor Kay Ivey, Alabama
• Governor Phil Bryant, Mississippi
• Governor Matt Bevin, Kentucky
• Mayor Madeline Rogero, City of Knoxville
• Mayor Glenn Jacobs, Knox County
• Mayor Andy Berke, City of Chattanooga
• Mayor Leigh Dollar, City of Guntersville
“We’re grateful to these elected officials for making public proclamations about the importance of our river,” said Ms. Gibi. “We saw firsthand over the last month how statements from the leaders of our communities can ignite action at many different levels.”
In fact, when Cash ‘The Conservation Kid’ Daniels, one of the Tennessee Ripple Effect Award recipients, saw that Knoxville and Knox County had made proclamations for the month, he wanted the mayor of his home town in Chattanooga to be included. Mr. Daniels himself submitted the request for the proclamation, and Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke soon made a proclamation of his own for the month-long river celebration.
Ripple effect awards:
In addition to supporting the river cleanups with donated supplies, Yamaha Rightwaters sponsored the first annual Ripple Effect Awards. The awards were established to recognize the often-unsung good stewards of the Tennessee River watershed. The hope is that sharing the award recipients’ stories will help to inspire future river champions in a “ripple effect” of good deeds for the river.
Three awards ceremonies were held prior to corresponding river cleanups, with state winners in the following three geographic divisions:
TENNESSEE- Adopt a River Mile - Anthony Laurino Conservation - Ijams Nature Center Corporation - Waterfront Management Standout Youth - Cash ‘The Conservation Kid’ Daniels Keep America/TN Beautiful Affiliate Keep Bristol Beautiful Government Department - TDOT’s Highway Beautification Office Elected Official - Alderman John Stamps of Collierville, TN Marina - Hickory Star Resort & Marina Beacon - Jake Davis
ALABAMA- Adopt a River Mile – Pickwick Parrot Head Club Conservation – Tennessee River Keeper Corporation – Alabama Outdoors Standout Youth – IKF Leadership Team Keep America/Alabama Beautiful Affiliate - Keep the Shoals Beautiful Government Department – City of Guntersville Recycling Elected Official – State Senator Clay Scofield, 9th District Marina – Safe Harbor Aqua Yacht Marina Beacon – Nicole Reyes
KENTUCKY- Adopt a River Mile – Phillip Toon Conservation – Friends of Land Between the Lakes Standout Youth – Four Rivers District of the Boy Scouts of America Government Department – Clarks River National Wildlife Refuge elected official – Wade White, Lyon County executive judge Marina – Big Bear Resort Beacon – Emily Cleaver
“Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful Watershed Month was an incredible show of support for an invaluable body of water, but it was also a celebration of the unsung heroes who spend their precious time and effort to keep it that way,” said Kyle Howard, KTNRB board president. “As we acknowledge the accomplishments of the award winners, we hope to go forward with a strengthened resolve to stop litter at the source in our everyday habits.”