The Environmental Journal of Southern Appalachia

Action Alert Archive (62)

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.

Don’t get tricked — Halloween is the LAST day to give them your ...

Advance Knox Choices Week

and 

Tell others

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Advance Knox Choices WeekAdvance Knox proposes three growth scenarios for the future of the unincorporated areas of Knox County.

If you missed the community meetings and the Zoom event during Advance Knox’s “Choices Week,” you can still take the survey online!

If you are unfamiliar with the Advance Knox project, you may find it helpful to watch the first 19 minutes of the Choices Week webinar recording before taking the survey.

Advance Knox is a process to prepare a land use and transportation plan for Knox County that is informed by research and community input,” according to its website.

In March 2022, Advance Knox offered a first round of public input opportunities during its “Ideas Week.”  As reported in Hellbender Press, community meetings were held all over the county. Participation opportunities at special group presentations, a Zoom webinar, and individual commenting on the website were similar to those of Choices Week.

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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.

Last chance for comments in support of saving the country’s best remaining forests

old forestOld Growth  U.S. National Park Service

On July 14, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of the Interior opened a public comment period following President Biden’s Executive Order to conserve mature and old-growth forests.

The deadline for comments is Tuesday, Aug. 30. Now is the time to protect our federally managed forests to safeguard our communities from the future impacts of climate change. Make your voice heard and submit a comment to the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management.

The mature and old-growth trees in our federally managed forests are one of this country’s greatest resources. These forests provide critical habitats for wildlife, prevent erosion and flooding, protect our drinking water, and are an essential climate solution.

United States forests cover about 290 million hectares of land and make up the fourth largest forest area of any country in the world. In 2019, the carbon sequestered in these forests offset approximately 12 percent of United States greenhouse gas emissions.

— Sierra Club

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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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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TVA 1 2048x1365A hopper car on a train filled with coal to be delivered to a TVA coal-fired plant. John Partipilo/Tennessee Lookout

Climate bill designates TVA as a potential recipient of clean energy investments and loans

This story was originally published by Tennessee Lookout.

KNOXVILLE  Clean-energy advocates are urging the Tennessee Valley Authority to use funds provided through the Inflation Reduction Act to deliver environmentally friendly energy to Tennessee customers. 

The massive bill Congress passed Friday includes $370 billion for clean energy investments and listed TVA as an entity that is eligible to take advantage of clean energy credits and loans to significantly reduce the cost of energy-efficient infrastructure. 

On Aug. 12, the Clean Up TVA Coalition, including the Sierra Club, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy and Appalachian Voices, urged TVA to take advantage of the legislation and make funds available to its affiliated local power companies, which can then offer energy-efficient options for customers.

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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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EMDFlocation
 

Editor’s note: As reported in Hellbender Press, the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management (OREM) was reprimanded by the Southern Environmental Law Center for neglecting its duty to follow guidelines and proper procedures mandated by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Of immediate concern was OREM’s pretext and information — or specifically lack of pertinent information — released ahead of the public meeting on May 17, 2022 about its project for a new “Environmental Management Disposal Facility” (EMDF).

With regard to NEPA compliance, Oak Ridge Operations has been the black sheep in DOE’s stable because it never prepared the required site-wide environmental impact statement (EIS) for the Oak Ridge Reservation (ORR). At said public meeting, Virginia Dale, Corporate Fellow Emeritus of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, commented on another tangent of shortcomings — not spelled out by Federal law — but matters of common sense, competent decision making and good community spirit.

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KNOXVILLE — Knox County and the Water Quality Forum will host the ​fifth-annual Cheers to Clean Water Celebration and Clean-Up on Saturday (June 11) at Suttree Landing Park across the river from downtown.

The event, which includes a water race for kayaks and paddle boarders, kicks off at 11:30 a.m. and registration is open until 10:30 a.m. the day of the event. ​Following the race there will be a celebration that includes local vendors and booths, kids’ activities, kayaks for rental, blue grass music, food trucks, rain barrels, and prizes. The celebration and cleanup are free and open to the public. The race costs $15. Local breweries ​have donated beer for purchase.

“This event is a fun way to promote the importance of keeping our rivers and streams clean,” said Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs.

For a full list of prices and to register for the event click here.

The Water Quality Forum is a coalition of diverse partners including local governments, non-profits, utility companies and businesses that work together to keep East Tennessee waters clean. The Knox County stormwater office is working with the forum to host the event.

— Knox County government

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Dear Commissioner {last-name}:

We implore you to vote against the request to strip the Agricultural zoning from the core area of the historic Twin Springs Farm in Dry Hollow.
(11-B-21-SP & 11-F-21-RZ   Request of Thunder Mountain Properties, LLC for rezoning from A (Agricultural) ... Property located at 8802 Sevierville Pike and 0 Dry Hollow Road.)

This property is an integral part of a forgotten Knox County heritage area that has unique historical, cultural, economic and ecological values.

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Opposition still stands against Dry Hollow housing proposal on Knox commish agenda

KNOXVILLE — Compass reported that Knox County Commission voted 8-3 Monday night to approve a new housing development in South Knox County, “despite fierce opposition from surrounding residents.

“Local residents haven’t stopped a development, but they forced some changes,” Compass reported.

“But the conditions imposed by Commission limit the subdivision in the Dry Hollow area to 180 homes on the flattest, most developable part of the property — down from 255 that the Knoxville-Knox County Planning Commission had approved.”

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How and why did things go wrong at the EMWMFImage from a 2018 memorandum authored by experts including former Department of Energy employees in Oak Ridge. EMWMF is the present landfill that has a history of failures and is reaching capacity. Ecologists say, after a decade DOE still is not adequately addressing waste acceptance criteria and feasible alternatives.

 

Public can comment in person Tuesday night in Oak Ridge on proposed DOE waste dump

OAK RIDGE — The Southern Environmental Law Center blistered the Department of Energy in a letter ahead of a May 17 hearing on construction of a toxic-waste landfill that opponents said poses contamination threats to portions of the Clinch River watershed and downstream TVA reservoirs.

The hearing is set for 6-8 p.m. Tuesday, May 17 at the Pollard Technology Conference Center, 210 Badger Ave. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. will be accepted through June 7.

The Department of Energy wants to bury contaminated debris from demolition of Manhattan Project-era complexes and associated legacy toxins from the Oak Ridge Reservation. The drawn-out debate about how best to safely store the materials now focuses on the transparency of the decision process and the health of the Bear Creek watershed and downstream pollution threats to the Clinch River. 

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OAK RIDGE — WBIR channel 10 News 2-minute video highlighting a controversy that has been brewing for a decade.

Infographics and more details added May 5, 2022

Tree clearing would radically degrade the visual experience and take away shade crucial to enjoyment of a walk during increasingly hot weather

On April 4, TRISO-X LLC, a subsidiary incorporated last August by X-Energy LLC, disclosed plans to build a plant at Horizon Center to manufacture a new kind of “unmeltable” tri-structural isotropic nuclear fuel (TRISO) for high-temperature pebble-bed gas reactors. It will use uranium, enriched to less than 20 percent, to fabricate spherical, billiards-ball sized High-Assay Low-Enriched Uranium (HALEU) pebbles.

Horizon Center,

situated among sensitive natural areas, was designed as an upscale light-industrial and office park. Despite its fancy landscaping with sculpture gardens, it failed to attract the many buyers that had been anticipated when it was created a quarter century ago. A principal argument for its establishment was that Oak Ridge needed to attract more private enterprise to reduce dependency on Federal jobs.

Terragenics’ $38 million plant, which was built to manufacture implantable radioactive pellets to treat prostate cancer never went into full production and was abandoned in 2005. 2015, with Governor Haslam in attendance, Canadian CVMR promised 620 jobs, using the plant for it’s first U.S. production site and to move its headquarters to it from Toronto, too.