The Environmental Journal of Southern Appalachia

Events (90)

Help control invasive exotic plants Saturday at Oak Ridge cedar barrens

Oak Ridge Cedar Barrens fall 2022

 

OAK RIDGE — The Oak Ridge Cedar Barren will again be the site of exotic invasive plant removal on Saturday, Nov. 5 as we conduct our fall cleanup, our third and final cleanup of the year.  Located next to Jefferson Middle School in Oak Ridge, the Barren is a joint project of the City of Oak Ridge, State Natural Areas Division, and Tennessee Citizens for Wilderness Planning. The area is one of just a few cedar barrens in East Tennessee, and is subject to invasion by bushy lespedeza, leatherleaf viburnum, privet, autumn olive, mimosa, Nepal grass, multiflora rose, and woody plants that threaten the system’s prairie grasses. Our efforts help to eliminate invasives and other shade-producing plants that prevent the prairie grasses from getting needed sunlight.

Volunteers should meet in the Jefferson Middle School Parking lot at 9 a.m., with sturdy shoes, loppers, gloves, and water.  The work session will conclude at noon with a pizza lunch. For more information, contact Tim Bigelow at 865-607-6781 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Hellbender Press reported in detail on last year’s Cedar Barren spring cleanup.

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ELOlogoELO is a student-run organization at the University of Tennessee College of Law. It is not directly affiliated with the University of Tennesse or any particular non-profit organization. It is dedicated to providing students and attorneys with learning opportunities and leadership experiences.

Networking environmental leaders across Appalachia and the State of Tennessee

Knoxville — APIEL is a relative newcomer to the small circle of inclusive U.S. public interest environmental law conferences. Because it is organized by law school student volunteers, APIEL is affordable to attend for students as well as citizens from all walks of life.

APIEL is much loved and considered essential by regional nonprofit leaders and activists. It is also highly acclaimed by seasoned environmental lawyers. With just 12 conferences under its belt, APIEL has risen to rank among leading peer conferences with a much longer track record, such as the  Public Interest Environmental Law Conference (PIELC) at the University of Oregon School of Law (39 events), the Red Clay Conference at the University of Georgia School of Law (34) and the Public Interest Environmental Conference (PIEC) at the University of Florida’s Levin College of Law (28).

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Adolph Ochs plaque

KNOXVILLE — Adolph Ochs’s path to running The New York Times started in downtown Knoxville, and local organizations and educators will recognize the historical significance with a panel discussion and dedication of a historic plaque.

The East Tennessee chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists (ETSPJ); University of Tennessee School of Journalism and Electronic Media (UTJEM); Knoxville History Project; and Front Page Foundation (FPF) have teamed up for two events that are free and open to the public. 

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fontana

GATLINBURG — The director of the National Park Service is expected in Great Smoky Mountains National Park on Saturday to celebrate National Public Lands Day.

Director Chuck Sams plans to make some remarks in appreciation for the volunteers who help backstop national park maintenance costs before citizens fan out for various tasks across the park. Sams is the first Native American to head the park service, and he will be joined by Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Chief Richard G. Sneed.

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American Alligators (Alligator mississippiensis) paint art for the Aquarium's fall fundraising auction.An American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) paints art for the fall fundraising auction for the Tennessee Aquarium. The auction runs through Sept. 26.  Tennessee Aquarium

Wildlife masterpieces mark an artistic autumnal fundraiser for the Tennessee Aquarium

CHATTANOOGA — While getting ready to tackle his next artistic masterpiece at the Tennessee Aquarium, Avior the red-ruffed lemur likes to take a few steps to center himself: languid naps in the sunshine, delicate nibbles of romaine lettuce, a resounding howl to focus his energy. 

Only after these rituals are complete can this master of composition — a true “Lemur-nardo” da Vinci — begin putting paw and tail to canvas to create his next opus. 

Avior’s latest triumph — made using non-toxic, animal-friendly tempura paint, naturally — is a 16-by-20-inch piece created in collaboration with his fellow lemurs and social media star Atlanta-based artist Andrea Nelson (TikTok video). Avior and Nelson’s masterwork is one of more than two dozen pieces of art made by aquarium animals now up for bid during the Tennessee Aquarium’s online fall fundraising auction. The auction will conclude at noon on Monday, Sept. 26.

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Big South Fork wild hogsWild hogs are seen rooting in a sensitive area. Hog season opens later this month in Big South Fork.  National Park Service

ONEIDA — Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area this week announced regulations for those wanting to kill invasive wild hogs during the 2022 fall and winter seasons.

Most hog populations within the protected areas of BSF are believed to be present on the Tennessee side of the park, which spans the Kentucky border. Feral hogs have been present in East Tennessee for generations. They destroy local flora and fauna mainly by rooting in low-lying mountain and valley areas. They are especially fond of salamanders, many species of which are in grave decline. In Great Smoky Mountains National Park, hunters are regularly deployed to cull hogs throughout the park.

“The wild hog is an invasive exotic species that has a significant negative impact to native species and do a great deal of damage to farmlands and residential areas. The damage they cause threatens park resources including federally listed plants,” according to a release from the park service. 

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1 smokies most wanted infographic credit Emma Oxford GSMA

This story was provided by Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Next demonstration on Thursday, Oct. 20

GATLINBURG — Great Smoky Mountains National Park is celebrating the success of a community science project led by nonprofit partner Discover Life in America (DLiA) called Smokies Most Wanted. The initiative encourages visitors to record life they find in the park through the iNaturalist nature app. DLiA and the park use these data points to map species range, track exotic species, and even discover new kinds of life in the park. 

“iNaturalist usage in the Smokies has skyrocketed from just four users in 2011, to 3,800 in 2020, to now more than 7,100 users,” said Will Kuhn, DLIA’s director of science and research. 

In August, the project reached a milestone, surpassing 100,000 records of insects, plants, fungi, and other Smokies life submitted through the app. Among them are 92 new species not previously seen in the park.

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Handout from TVA Listening Session Aug. 30 2022Scott Banbury with the Tennessee Chapter of the Sierra Club said a handout provided at TVA’s Aug. 30 listening session stated recordings of the meeting were not allowed; a TVA spokesperson said recordings are, in fact, allowed. Flyer provided by Scott Banbury

Is TVA trying to gag its critics?

This story was originally published by Tennessee Lookout.

KNOXVILLE — While the Tennessee Valley Authority, a utility company that provides power to millions in Tennessee and other states, allows for public input into decisions, the process isn’t simple or transparent, say some regular attendees.

Take, for instance, a recent public listening session: representatives of the Tennessee Chapter of the Sierra Club say they were told they could not record the session despite a spokesman for TVA saying the opposite.

According to TVA spokesperson Scott Brooks, attendees are always allowed to record public meetings, provided they don’t cause a disturbance, but minutes before the session, members of the Tennessee chapter of the Sierra Club were prohibited from doing so.

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IMG 3713Spark CleanTech Accelerator participants join Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon during an Aug. 31 awards ceremony. Ben Pounds/Hellbender Press

Knoxville celebrates sustainable technology startups from across the country

KNOXVILLE — Leaders of start-up green businesses specializing in services and products ranging from carbon reduction to cleaning products and piping wrapped up some warp-speed lessons Aug. 31.

At the conclusion of the three-month Spark CleanTech Accelerator the leaders of environmentally sustainable businesses from across the country took home some awards and got a strategic pep talk from Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon.

“I’m very committed to all things green and sustainable,” she said. “Orange and green are complementary colors." She spoke of making Knoxville a “clean tech hub,” not just for Tennessee but internationally. She envisioned “a cleaner Knoxville and a cleaner world.”

Climbers can clean their crags during Obed event

adopt a crag photoVolunteers are needed to improve and maintain climbing and approach areas at the Obed.  National Park Service

WARTBURG The Obed Wild and Scenic River will host the park’s annual Adopt-a-Crag event on Saturday, Sept. 11 in cooperation with the East Tennessee Climbers Coalition.

Volunteers are needed to help with a variety of projects, including general trail maintenance and litter pickup. Participants should meet at the Lilly Pad Hopyard Brewery at 9 a.m. to register and receive a project assignment. Carpooling is suggested, and volunteers should bring their own lunch, water, hand tools and gloves.

When the work is done, volunteers are invited to spend the day climbing, kayaking or hiking. The ETCC plans a volunteer appreciation dinner that evening at the Lilly Pad.

For more information, contact the Obed Wild and Scenic River at (423) 346-6294.

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MEMPHIS Area residents were invited to a film screening of “Keep the Lights On” and a panel discussion at the Memphis Rox climbing gym with community members, local advocates and policy experts. The event, which ran from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 20, coincided with Global Climbing Day, and professional rock climbers Nina Williams, Manoah Ainuu (who recently summited Everest), Olympic Silver Medalist Nathaniel Coleman, and Fred Campbell hosted and participated in community and climbing-oriented events prior to the film screening and conversation. 

The film follows Memphis Rox staff member and leader Jarmond Johnson, recounting his experiences with intermittent energy access growing up in South Memphis, his growth into a gang activist and mentorship role at Rox, and, ultimately, working with professional rock climber and environmental activist Alex Honnold (best known for the academy award-winning film, Free Solo) to bring solar energy to the gym. Following the screening, Jarmond and a panel of experts discussed takeaways from the film, and how equitable access to solar energy could help all Memphians keep their lights on. 

— Southern Alliance for Clean Energy

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KNOXVILLE — People assembled at 6 p.m. Aug. 19 to speak for the trees threatened by development of an art installment at the half-acre Cradle of Country Music Park at the corner of Gay Street and Summit Hill Drive downtown.

The Harvey Broome Chapter of the Sierra Club organized the protest against the removal of five mature oak trees to make way for the sculpture and its base, which was originally commissioned to a New York City artist in 2018 and will cost the city $600,000, according to reporting from Compass. The online news outlet also reported Friday that Councilwoman Seema Singh has requested a pause in the project to determine whether there are alternatives to removing the trees.

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Suttree LandingRacers of all stripes assembled Saturday for Cheers to Clean Water boat races on the Tennessee River. Keenan Thomas/Hellbender Press

Cheers to Clean Water celebrants race, learn and scrub the river at Suttree Landing Park

KNOXVILLE — Beneath the sound of a beckoning banjo, partiers and athletes alike paddled the shores of Suttree Landing Park, picking up trash as they floated down the Tennessee River.

The fifth Cheers to Clean Water Celebration on Saturday (June 11) featured 4k- and 8k-kayak races, a cleanup in and around the Tennessee River, and a central gathering area punctuated by booths for land- and water-based advocacy organizations.

“It’s both on water and on land, cleaning up this section of the Tennessee River,” AmeriCorps member Madison Moore said on Saturday from the park. “After the boating is over, they’ll come down here for the celebration, where we have a whole bunch of other vendors that are helping us make this day a possibility.”

The celebration promotes the importance of maintaining and cleaning major waterways like the Tennessee River.

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big cameraDonna Moore and Anna Lawrence are pictured at a Big Camera! event in May at Ijams Nature Center in South Knoxville. Ben Pounds/Hellbender PressLessons in early and enduring photo techniques are an organic way to spread the arts and cultivate love of nature

KNOXVILLE — Donna Moore and Anna Lawrence showed people how to take photos with the sun.

The method, demonstrated this spring at Ijams Nature Center, involved putting one or more leaves on photo paper and spraying it with two sprays. One spray contained lemon and water. The other contained water with vinegar.

Children then placed these leaves on wet photo paper in the sun. The sun’s light gives a permanent impression of the leaf on the paper.

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Parson Branch RoadParson Branch Road in Great Smoky Mountains National Park was reopened May 26 after a six-year closure. National Park Service 

Parson Branch Road had been closed since 2016 because of washouts and danger from trees killed by the hemlock woolly adelgid

This article was provided by Great Smoky Mountains National Park Public Information Officer Dana Soehn.

CADES COVE — Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials celebrated on Thursday (May 26) the reopening of Parson Branch Road with a ribbon-cutting event honoring the crew who performed the needed work and the Friends of the Smokies who provided critical funding to support the efforts. The historic gravel road, originally constructed in 1838, is now reopened to the public after a six-year closure. 

“We are pleased to reopen Parson Branch Road in time for the 2022 summer season,” said Deputy Superintendent Alan Sumeriski. “Not only does this restore access to one of the most special places in the Smokies, it also allows another opportunity for people of all abilities to spread out and explore less traveled areas of this very busy park.”