Hellbent Profile (5)
Hellbent is an occasional series profiling citizens who work to preserve and improve the Southern Appalachian environment.
Andrew Gunnoe helms spirited efforts to preserve beloved Little River but the current is swift
MARYVILLE — For 25 years, the handful of men and women involved with the nonprofit Little River Watershed Association (LRWA) have been protecting the crystal clear waters as they plummet from the Great Smoky Mountains before meandering through Blount County and merging with the Tennessee River.
“We see ourselves as the voice of the Little River, speaking for the river and its health,” said Andrew Gunnoe, president of the LRWA Board of Directors.
From the famous swimming hole at the Wye to the profusion of inner tube rental companies in Townsend, the Little River is one of the region’s most popular spots for water recreation. Further downstream, the waterway becomes an almost perfect spot for fishing, canoeing and kayaking.
For all the popularity as a recreation stop, the 59-mile stretch of water is also a vital habitat for numerous aquatic species and provides the 120,000-plus residents of Blount County with drinking water.
- little river diversity threat
- little river
- little river aqautic life
- little river watershed association
- preserving water quality
- maryville, tennessee
- great smokies
- little river national park
- conservation fisheries
- blount county
- tennessee valley authority
- escherichia coli
- e coli
- stream school
- university of tennessee environmental studies and sustainability
- sediment pollution
- water quality monitoring
‘It’s very good for the soul.’ Bo Baxter and Conservation Fisheries focus underwater to save our Southern fishes.
This is the latest installment of an occasional series, Hellbent, profiling citizens and organizations who work to preserve and improve the Southern Appalachian environment.
KNOXVILLE — For more than 35 years, an obscure nonprofit headquartered here has grown into one of the most quietly successful champions of ecology and environmental restoration in the Eastern United States.
Conservation Fisheries, which occupies a 5,000-square foot facility near the Pellissippi State University campus on Division Street, has spent nearly four decades restoring native fish populations to numerous waterways damaged years ago by misguided governmental policies.
In fact, the mid-20th century saw wildlife officials frequently exterminating key aquatic species to make way for game fish like trout.
“It was bad science, but it was the best they had at the time,” said Conservation Fisheries Executive Director Bo Baxter. “A lot of the central concepts of ecology, like food webs and communities, were not developed back then.”
At cusp of retirement, Sandra Goss reflects on what she and others have saved
This is the latest installment of an occasional series, Hellbent, profiling citizens who work to preserve and improve the Southern Appalachian environment.
OAK RIDGE — I can see the view of Lilly Bluff Overlook at Obed Wild and Scenic River in my mind. The trees are bare save some evergreens. The stream I love to splash around in during warmer times is flowing between the slopes.
I can see the cliff face in the distance. It would be a great place to interview Tennessee Citizens for Wilderness Planning (TCWP) Executive Director Sandra Goss; after all she and her organization helped preserve the area. It’s also near the places she grew up. She cited the experiences as inspiring her conservation ethic.
Earlier this winter, the Christmas tree in Oak Ridge’s Jackson Square was on its side due to icy gusts and I’ve called off meeting with Goss in person at Panera to avoid torturing her or me with the elements. We could hike, but not stand around.
I’ve seen her at TCWP Christmas parties in Oak Ridge and on hikes though, so just like Lilly Bluff, I can imagine her silver-white hair, smile and glasses as I speak to her by phone. I hear her accent, more Southern Appalachian than the Yankee-ish Oak Ridge accent I speak, nodding to her origin in Crossville.
Goss is retiring Aug. 31, and she’s looking back on her work and forward to the break.
Each year more than 600,000 people visit Ijams Nature Center
This is the second installment of an occasional series, Hellbent, profiling citizens who work to preserve and improve the Southern Appalachian environment.
KNOXVILLE — On any given day, the parking lot at Ijams Nature Center in South Knoxville is packed with cars, trucks, and buses as folks of all ages flock to hike, climb, swim and paddle its 300-plus acres of protected wildlands.
Making sure the center’s 620,000 or so annual visitors have a positive experience interacting with Mother Nature requires dozens of full-time employees plus a generous contingent of volunteers. Ensuring the complex operation stays on course and within its $1.8 million operating budget is a tough job, but Ijams Executive Director Amber Parker has been doing it for six years now and has no desire to be doing anything else.
When Amber talks about Ijams she fairly bursts with giddy, infectious energy. This is a woman who has clearly found her place in the world, and even a brief walk along any of the center’s 21 trails makes one wonder if the land itself hasn’t responded in like fashion to her devotion.
From the courthouse to the river, Chris Irwin strives for purity
This is the first installment of an occasional series, Hellbent, profiling citizens who work to preserve and improve the Southern Appalachian environment.
KNOXVILLE — Chris Irwin scarfed some french fries and drank a beer and told me about his plans to save the Tennessee River.
We sat at a riverside restaurant downtown between the bridges. Not even carp came up to eat a stray fry, but a mallard family hit the free starch hard.
I asked him what he saw as we looked out over the river in the still heat of late summer.
“You know what I don’t see?” he said. “People swimming.” It was truth. Nobody was fishing either, in the heart of a metro area pushing a million people. Signs warning against swimming and fishing weren’t readily visible, but he said an instinctive human revulsion likely makes such warnings unnecessary.
“We all know it’s an industrial drainage ditch.”