Action Alert Archive (80)
Public Lands Day looking for volunteers
Big South Fork celebrates National Public Lands Day Saturday, September 23 with a Volunteer Trails Event
Oneida, Tennessee — Take part in the National Public Lands Day celebration at the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area on Saturday, September 23, 2023.
On this day, the park is looking for volunteers to help build out the last section of the Sheltowee Trace National Recreation Trail. Interested volunteers should meet at the R.M. Brooks General Store (2830 Rugby Parkway, Robbins, Tennessee 37852) on Saturday the 23rd at 8:30 am ET. Please wear long pants and sturdy footwear.
Established in 1994 and held annually on the fourth Saturday in September, National Public Lands Day celebrates the connection between people and green space in their community, inspires environmental stewardship and encourages use of open space for education, recreation and health benefits. More information can be found online at https://www.neefusa.org/npld.
For more information visit the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area website or call 423-569-9778.
Public hearing on proposed Oak Ridge airport suggests there is no easy glide path for project
OAK RIDGE — Citizens of Oak Ridge and surrounding communities continue to debate the pros and cons of a new airport in the area. A public forum on Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2023, brought together those for and against the proposed airport to study documents and discuss the project.
The city plans to construct a 5,000-foot runway, partial parallel taxiway, and associated facilities at a location north of U.S. 58 between Perimeter and Blair roads. It’s in the Heritage Center around the former K-25 site from the Manhattan Project era.
The city of Oak Ridge government commissioned GMC to write an Environmental Assessment and the Federal Aviation Administration will review it, along with public comments to make decisions about moving forward with the airport construction. In a press release the city of Oak Ridge stated it organized the hearing to follow federal laws and policies. Other reasons for the meeting included issues such as “area wetland, streams, and ponds; archaeological and historical sites; biological issues; airport noise and social effects such as road closures and realignments; view shed and lighting impacts.”
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- james lewis
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- thomas fraser
- ben pounds
- liz porter
- faa regulation
- tennessee citizens for wilderness planning
- jeff gilpin
- endangered bat
Desperate necessity or boondoggle in the making?
OAK RIDGE — The City of Oak Ridge will conduct a public hearing at the Double Tree Hotel, August 8, 2023 from 6 to 8 P.M. EDT on the Oak Ridge Airport Environmental Assessment, as required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
The Foundation for Global Sustainability (FGS) believes that a full environmental impact statement would be required under NEPA if the City of Oak Ridge wants to use Federal funding to build an airport here. The provided Environmental Assessment is mistaken in declaring that the project will have “no significant impact.”
Please check back here often as we will update this article with more information on important issues over the coming week.
Comments submitted to the Federal Aviation Administration by Advocates for the Oak Ridge Reservation
(Updated: Inadvertently we had included bullet points from a draft of the expanded and mailed letter.)
AFORR recognizes general aviation (GA) airports are a big part of the US national economy and understands that they can be justified for a local economy. However, in the specific instance of a proposed GA airport in Oak Ridge, we believe there are no compelling merits, needs, or justifications for such an airport. The following points support our position that the development of an Oak Ridge airport is not warranted or needed.
— There is no defensible need for the airport. Oak Ridge has convenient access to three modern airports serving general aviation — DKX, RKW, & TYS. The proposed airport location in Oak Ridge does not meet one of the key FAA entry criteria for a new GA airport. It is a 25-minute ground travel time from the proposed Oak Ridge airport site to the Rockwood Municipal Airport (RKW). FAA Order5090.3C Chapter 2 Entry Criteria requires a new GA airport to be 30 minutes or more average ground travel time from the nearest airport under the National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems.
Knoxville trees need a canopy of support
KNOXVILLE — Trees Knoxville wants to hear from residents to help develop an Urban Forest Master Plan that considers the city’s unique challenges, priorities, and opportunities. A successful plan will help Knoxville preserve, grow and care for trees, which play a significant role in public health and environmental health.
Upcoming opportunities to learn more and provide feedback:
May 4, 6-7:30 p.m.
Urban Trees Virtual Open House
If you haven’t attended an in-person event, this virtual option may fit your schedule. Learn about the urban tree canopy and provide your thoughts and perspective on what Knoxville needs. Participants will need to preregister online to receive the link to the virtual workshop.
May 11, 4-7 p.m.
Urban Trees Open House
616 Jessamine Street
Trees in cities are vital to human health, especially as the climate warms. What does Knoxville need? Come to this open-house-style event to learn more and add your two cents. Trees Knoxville will give 15-minute presentations at 5 and 6 p.m. Attendees will learn more about the Urban Forest Master Plan process and how to engage neighbors, friends and other residents who value trees in this important process.
Invite Trees Knoxville to your meeting! Go to KnoxvilleTreePlan.org to schedule a presentation.
Online Survey. If none of these engagement options work, fill out the online survey at Knoxville Tree Plan to make sure your voice is heard.
Trees Knoxville was formed in 2016 and grew out of the community’s deep appreciation for trees and their many benefits. Its mission is to expand the urban canopy on both public and private land throughout Knox County. Trees Knoxville is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to planting trees, educating people, and promoting the health and well-being of our community and our environment in Knoxville and Knox County.
— City of Knoxville
Earth Day activities have cooled in Knoxville over the decades. The planet has not.
KNOXVILLE — It’s been 52 years since the modern environmental movement was born on what is now known around the world as Earth Day.
Now reckoned to be the world’s largest secular observance, Earth Day is the climax of Earth Week (April 16 to 22), which brings together an estimated billion people around the globe working to change human behavior and push for pro-environment economic and legislative action. This year’s theme is “Invest in the planet.”
Events marking Earth Day in Knoxville tend to vary in size and tone from year-to-year, with 2023 providing environmentally minded residents with a number of ways to celebrate Mother Earth.
Perhaps the most memorable of those years was the very first one, when one of the most important voices in the burgeoning environmental movement spoke on the University of Tennessee campus.
Jane Jacobs, who is now recognized as “the godmother of the New Urbanism movement,” gave a lecture to a crowd of nearly 200 people on the topic of “Man and His Environment” at the Alumni Memorial Hall, according to Jack Neely, who heads the Knoxville History Project.
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KNOXVILLE — Volunteer registration is open for the 34th Ijams River Rescue on Saturday, April 15, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. A severe weather date is set for Saturday, April 22.
Ijams Nature Center’s annual event removes tons of trash and tires from sites along the Tennessee River and its creek tributaries. Sites are typically located in Knox, Anderson, Blount and Loudon counties.
“During this cleanup, between 500-1,000 volunteers come together to make a tangible, positive difference in their community,” Ijams Development Director Cindy Hassil said. “It’s eye-opening to participate because you really get to see what ends up in our waterways. Hopefully it makes people more aware of how they dispose of trash and recyclables, and inspires them to look for ways to reduce the amount of waste they create.”
There are cleanup sites on land, along the shoreline (boots/waders recommended) and on the water (personal kayaks/canoes required).
If you care about growth and transportation in Knox County, attend one of these meetings to share your ideas and express your opinions.
This article was updated on March 27 with first impressions from the March 27 meeting.
KNOXVILLE — Based on previous public input and data analysis, the Advance Knox project team has developed a list of proposed transportation projects that will accompany a future land use plan.
Advance Knox is an effort to define a vision and create a plan that will guide growth, land use, transportation, economic prosperity and quality of life in Knox County for years to come.
This is the first time the County has created an integrated land use and transportation plan, that is billed as having “the potential to be transformative.”
“Bringing land use and transportation components together is what will set this plan up for success,” said Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs. “Our teams are eager to hear community feedback and move toward adopting a final plan.”
Will this plan result in the transformation that you hope for?
Now is the time for you to check that it meets your needs, expectations and wishes. Or, to argue for better solutions by participating in this process.
Priorities Week is the third and final round of Advance Knox community outreach!
EPA plans to contain toxic waste and restore waterways; community group will offer guidance
KNOXVILLE — A crowd gathered in the South Knoxville Community Center to hear the Environmental Protection Agency’s long-awaited remediation plan for Smoky Mountain Smelting and its hazardous waste. Others tuned in via the Internet.
The meeting called by Vestal Community Organization took place Feb. 13. The EPA’s presentation and many questions focused on the former Smoky Mountain Smelting site at 1508 Maryville Pike near Montgomery Village Apartments.
Heather Duncan Nelson reported last year for Hellbender Press on the initial cleanup plans.
But citizens this week raised concerns about other contaminated former industrial properties along the same road. Vestal Community Organization plans to hold another meeting at 6 p.m. Feb. 22 to discuss and decide its position on these Maryville Pike properties.
“I was just thrilled and enamored by the way people were listening to the questions and answers,” said Eric Johnson with Vestal Community Organization, adding that he was referring both to the EPA and the citizens.
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OAK RIDGE — The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is seeking public input on the scope of its environmental review of TRISO-X LLC’s proposed nuclear fuel fabrication facility to be built in Oak Ridge (as reported by Hellbender Press already last April in the context of the decade-long struggle to prevent environmental damages from a proposed power line that would also have degraded the recreational experience of the North Boundary Greenway).
Comments are due Feb. 14. TRISO-X has proposed the facility for the Horizon Center on the western side of Oak Ridge. The company, a wholly owned subsidiary of X-Energy LLC, has applied for a license to construct and operate the facility to manufacture high-assay low-enriched uranium fuel for advanced reactors. Along with a safety and technical review, the NRC staff will develop an environmental impact statement to analyze the proposed facility’s potential impacts.
See the TRISO-X review, as well as non-sensitive parts of the license application, on the NRC website. A notice of intent to develop an environmental impact statement was published Dec. 16 in the Federal Register.
Conversations, letters, alliances and action prompted electrifying win for East Tennessee citizens
OAK RIDGE — After a grassroots citizen effort highlighted the fact new electric lines would mar habitat and popular hiking trails, the city plans to put them elsewhere.
The move came after objections raised by East Tennessee environmental groups, previously reported by Hellbender Press, to protect the land along the North Boundary Greenway, a wide gravel path used by hikers and cyclists. The new route goes down Novus Drive’s median, starting south of State Route 95.
Contractors aren’t done building the Novus Drive route, but city staff made the new route clear in December when asking for funding. Oak Ridge City manager Mark Watson stated the new lines and substation need to be ready for the proposed TRISO-X nuclear fuel facility by December 2024.
TVA solicits public input following release of environmental assessment for Bull Run Fossil Plant decommission
CLAXTON — Tennessee Valley Authority plans to close its Bull Run Fossil Plant (BRF) in Anderson County, but it’s still looking for public input on what comes next.
“As a large, inflexible coal unit with medium operating costs and a high forced outage rate, BRF does not fit current and likely future portfolio needs,” the federal utility said in a draft Environmental Assessment.
TVA is looking at three different options for the future of the structures still standing on the site by the Clinch River near Oak Ridge: taking down all structures; taking down some of them; or leaving everything standing. A recent report lays out the environmental consequences of each of these actions. The report, in draft form, is against that third choice, listing it as only an option for the sake of comparison.
“If the facility is left in the “as-is” condition, it likely would present a higher risk than Alternatives A or B for the potential to contaminate soil and groundwater as systems and structures degrade. As such, this alternative is not a reasonable alternative,” the draft states.
TVA stated its considering removing “all or most of the buildings and structures” on a 250-acre area. After closing the plant, but before any demolitions, TVA will begin by removing components that may be used at other TVA sites, draining of oil and fluids from equipment, taking ash out of the boilers, removing information technology assets, removing plant records and other tasks.
The Bull Run Environmental Assessment is 170 pages long and available for public review. It doesn’t directly tackle the coal ash storage conundrum that has grabbed the attention of politicians, nearby residents and environmental activists, because that issue involves separate regulations.
CLAXTON — Even though TVA is about to retire Bull Run Fossil Plant, water pollution issues related to it are still up for debate.
A water discharge permit hearing took place Thursday, Jan. 12 at the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation building, 761 Emory Valley Road in Oak Ridge.
The permit would, if approved, allow releases of “cooling water, process wastewater and storm water runoff” from Bull Run Fossil Plant into the Clinch River and operation of a cooling water intake system. Environmental groups have concerns.
Tennessee Valley Authority plans to retire Bull Run Fossil plant by 2023. Over several years and at meetings, both connected to TVA and organized by activist groups, citizens have voiced concerns about water quality issues due to the continued coal ash waste TVA stores on the site. In advance of this meeting, representatives of the Sierra Club, Southern Environmental Law Center, Appalachian Voices, Statewide Coalition for Community eMpowerment and Center for Biological Diversity all signed a letter asking for TDEC to set standards for water pollution from coal ash based on available technology.
This story will be updated.
Updated 1/3: Conservationists express dismay as Feds conclude ‘no significant impact’ from construction of Wears Valley mountain bike complexWritten by JJ Stambaugh
Feds clear 14-mile mountain bike trail network off Foothills Parkway, but no funding is secured
GATLINBURG — Those who logged protests against a National Park Service plan to carve a 14-mile mountain bike trail network through the forest off Foothills Parkway said they still opposed the plan despite federal conclusions it would not adversely impact the natural environment of the area.
“I’m very disappointed,” said Donna Edwards, an outspoken conservationist who lives in Walland and participated in the public scoping process. “What are (the) reasons for choosing the alternative with the largest footprint and greatest environmental impact?
“I fail to understand why mountain bikers’ needs are considered to be more important than those of birders and hikers, considering the extensive mountain bike trail networks in other areas of East Tennessee.”
She said arguments against approving the Wears Valley mountain bike trails were wise and well documented.
Here is the original Hellbender Press story:
A proposed off-road bike trail in the Wears Valley section of the Foothills Parkway that would be operated by the National Park Service has overcome a procedural hurdle but appears to be no closer to actually being built due to a lack of funding.
An environmental assessment to determine the project’s potential impact on wildlife and the environment led to an official “Finding of No Significant Impact” (FONSI), park officials said in a press release issued Thursday.
“We understand the public’s desire to have a purpose-built bike trail, and this marks a step for potential future development of a trail in Wears Valley,” said Cassius Cash, superintendent of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. “Having the signed FONSI allows us the opportunity to explore potential funding paths for both the construction and the annual operational costs.”
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Updated 12/27: Temperatures climb and snow melts as bitter cold finally moves out of Southern AppalachiansWritten by JJ Stambaugh
Southern cities emerge from frigid airmass after Christmas weekend of brutal cold and snow
KNOXVILLE — Temperatures rose above freezing on Tuesday for the first time since Dec. 23 following a weekend bout with historic cold, high winds, burst water and sewage lines and power outages. The chaos was punctuated with unexpectedly potent snowfall Dec. 26 on frigid roadways that snarled traffic in the city and metro area.
The snow came in the wake of a brutal cold front that first moved into the region in the early hours Friday morning.
Snow didn’t start falling until Monday afternoon, and by sunrise Tuesday between .5 and 2 inches of the white stuff had blanketed the area, falling upon already frigid roadways.
Public safety officials across the region urged motorists to stay home, and numerous government offices either closed or got off to a late start Tuesday due to icy roads.
Both the Knoxville Police Department and Knox County Sheriff’s Office activated their Severe Weather plans, which meant that officers would only respond to emergencies and wrecks with injuries.
Contribute to the master plan to grow tree canopy in Knoxville
KNOXVILLE — No matter where you are in the city, you’re not far from a patch or two of trees.
These copses range from small groupings of oaks or dogwoods that are commonly used to mark property boundaries to lush belts of temperate mixed-hardwood forest that sprawl across hundreds of acres.
While Knoxville may be blessed with an abundance of these urban forests, many local residents and leaders believe it’s nowhere near enough.
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- kasey krause
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- keep knoxville beautiful
Tell the USDA to implement the Organic Livestock and Poultry Standards rule soon — your voice is needed by midnight ET on November 10, 2022
The proposed Organic Livestock and Poultry Standards (OLPS) rule requires that all poultry receive legitimate outdoor access. This move comes after successive USDA delays and in spite of massive public comment urging the implementation of the previous organic livestock update — withdrawn despite over 40,000 comments in favor of better organic livestock standards. Read the Cornucopia Institute’s complete analysis of how we got to this moment.
Yes, It’s little and it’s late! — But neither too little nor too late to make an important difference
Cornucopia has called out factory-organic poultry operations for over a decade. Instead of dustbathing and cavorting in the sunlight, industrial organic hens are crammed into massive barns with screened porches.
The OLPS specifies the amount of outdoor space required for poultry production and improves some management practices for all organic livestock. Questions remain: How soon must existing operations comply?
How long will factory-organic producers be allowed to deceive you by labeling their eggs as organic?
Help control invasive exotic plants Saturday at Oak Ridge cedar barrens
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.
Hellbender Press reported in detail on last year’s Cedar Barren spring cleanup.
Advance Knox envisions three trajectories for development in Knox County, wants your opinion by Oct. 31Written by Wolf Naegeli
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.
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.