The Environmental Journal of Southern Appalachia

Displaying items by tag: east tennessee

Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon and University of Tennessee, Knoxville Chancellor Donde Plowman launch the Tennessee RiverLine.  Thomas Fraser/HellbenderPress

RiverLine dedicates itself to recreation and retrospect on the storied Tennessee River

In many respects, the United States and Native American nations before it were carved out by paddle blades.

Rivers provided transportation, communications, sustenance and avenues for exploration. They were the genesis of cities large and small.

Americans grew apart from the rivers that watered and nurtured a modern nation, their connections cut by outward growth and industrial development along riverbanks.

Only recently have the great continental rivers again become the centerpieces of redevelopment and modern recreation. One such effort officially launched in Knoxville on May 21 aims to further connect communities in four states with their river again.

A bale of turtles watched from logs embedded in the sediment of the Tennessee River (or more precisely, Fort Loudoun Lake) at Suttree Landing Park near downtown as officials from Knoxville to Paducah, Kentucky celebrated the creation of the Tennessee RiverLine, which will establish continuous paddling, hiking and biking trails along the 652-mile length of the reservoir-regulated river.

The initial effort, which will include enhanced launch and takeout sites, signage and navigational aids, 60 publicly available kayaks, campground enhancement, and publicity, is largely funded by a $400,000 investment shared between the University of Tennessee and Tennessee Valley Authority. The National Park Service is also a partner in the project.

Seventeen private and public groups of the RiverLine Partnership are committed to furthering the development of the trail, including the Nature Conservancy. Other supporters include Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area and the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga.

“These partners have brought so much to the city of Knoxville,” said Mayor Indya Kincannon specifically of UT and TVA during her public remarks at the well-choreographed event in the well-groomed park with the downtown skyline visible under a clear, blue sky to the northwest. 

“The Tennessee RiverLine is a continuation of our vision for what makes a healthy city: (which includes) parks and recreation,” she said, also touting the economic, therapeutic and spiritual benefits of ready access to outdoor recreation.

“During this past year, we’ve had a really hard time, dealing with the pandemic, and one thing that has helped me, and so many members of this community, is being able to be outside: being on the river, being in our parks,” Kincannon said. 

“That has helped us get through some challenging times, and that’s going to help us into the future.”

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IMG 0996Joy Grissom (left) and Gerry Moll pose for a photograph with their collection of rescued native plants at Knoxville Botanical Gardens.  Photos by Anna Lawrence/Hellbender Press  

Joy Grissom and Gerry Moll: Preserving East Tennessee's natural heritage with shovels and wheelbarrows

If there’s a massive ecological disturbance in your neighborhood, who you gonna call?

The Knoxville Native Plant Rescue Squad, of course. 

Joy Grissom and Gerry Moll spent the past six years identifying, digging, hauling and muscling native East Tennessee plants to salvation from construction, grading and logging sites.

The duo has saved thousands of plants and their communities from certain demise. They have plucked plants to safety from areas ranging from a 170-acre logging operation in Cocke County to relatively small commercial developments in Knox County.

“We both love and appreciate the natural world, a lot,” Moll said. “We would see that where there is development, a lot of these native plants are just bulldozed under,” he said during an interview earlier this spring at the Knoxville Botanical Garden. Thus the genesis of the Native Plant Rescue Squad, which was organized 2015 and received its own official nonprofit status in 2018.

Most of the plants and trees are harvested in a “shovel and wheelbarrow operation” after an initial canvass of the property. Then they get organized by species in neat rows at the botanical garden: White pine saplings. Black-eyed susans. Blackberries. Elderberries. Pawpaw. Persimmon. The plants are fragile but safe. They are for sale on the cheap. They need homes.

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5BABPNUwStudents listen to a presentation from an Oak Ridge National Laboratory researcher during National Environmental Education Week.  Courtesy Oak Ridge National Laboratory
 

Scientists link research to students’ lives and communities

(Editor's note: Karen Dunlap is a public information officer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory). 

Esther Parish is one of eight Oak Ridge National Laboratory scientists talking to students in nine schools across East Tennessee as part of National Environmental Education Week.

On Monday, she spoke to Cathy Kimball’s fifth-grade class at Lenoir City Middle School.

The discussion covered renewable energy resources, science career paths and how climate change may affect East Tennessee.

Other ORNL scientists, including Debjani Singh, Liz Agee, Shelaine Curd, Spencer Washburn, Colleen Iversen, Keith Kline and Matthew Langholtz are participating in classroom events through April 30.

The national event is organized by the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF), which celebrates environmental education.

“I think it is important to reach out to young people about environmental science because the choices that our society makes regarding renewable energy resource development and climate-change mitigation will have long-term effects on their environment, health and future quality of life,” Parish said. She is a member of ORNL’s Environmental Science Division and specializes in geography and landscape ecology.

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