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Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful’s ‘Tennessee River Grand Slam Cleanup Series’ kicked off this past weekend with a 15,700-pound wallop at two cleanups held in East Tennessee.
On Saturday, March 20, a total of 41 volunteers in Roane County removed 9,426 lbs. of trash from Watts Bar Lake and 17 volunteers removed 6,286 lbs. in Knoxville/Louisville on Sunday, March 21, from Fort Loudoun Lake. The weight included:
Roane County Cleanup
“We are blown away by the ever-increasing enthusiasm and momentum around river cleanup efforts in diverse communities in the Tennessee River watershed,” said Kathleen Gibi, Executive Director for Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful (KTNRB). “The energy is seen in the numbers, like the phenomenal achievements our volunteers made this weekend.”
The Grand Slam Cleanup Series has become an annual tradition for Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful, hosting cleanups in partnership with national nonprofit, Living Lands & Waters (LL&W), who brings five 30-foot work boats to supplement KTNRB’s boat. The series cleanups are held in four cities within three of the four states touched by the Tennessee River. Two cleanups remain in this year’s series. Gibi attributes the first two events’ successes to solid partnerships from all levels.
The national nonprofit, Living Lands & Waters, brings their five 30-foot work boats and crew to supplement KTNRB’s boat, merging into a small river cleanup fleet for each event in the Grand Slam Cleanup Series.
The cleanup series has national, state, and regional sponsors to make the cleanups possible. Series sponsors include the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), Tennessee Dept. of Transportation (TDOT), Keep Tennessee Beautiful (KTnB), and Keep America Beautiful (KAB). Representatives from each sponsor group have attended an event along the Tennessee River to clean up litter on site themselves.
Help has come from the local level, as well. For the Roane County cleanup, City of Kingston City Manager, David Bolling, and City of Rockwood City Administrator, Becky Ruppe, were instrumental in recruiting volunteers and lining up Roane County Solid Waste to donate dumpster and tire recycling services. The cleanup in Knoxville and Louisville, Tenn. was supported by Knox County Solid Waste, who donated dumpster and tire recycling services. Ijams Nature Center also supported Sunday’s event by bringing their work boat.
A new, local business made a significant contribution to the Roane County cleanup. Tennessee Aquatic Weed Removal owner, Bryan Bortle, brought his customized boat equipped with heavy machinery to remove an abandoned boat and 1,100-pound piece of dock comprised of concrete, metal, and Styrofoam.
KTNRB also worked with local KTnB and KAB current and aspiring affiliates such as Keep Knoxville Beautiful, Keep Blount Beautiful, Keep Roane Litter Free, Kingston Beautification Project, and Rockwood Beautification Project to spread the word about the cleanups.
Another partner in the cleanup series is the Tennessee RiverLine, a regional economic development, public health and environmental stewardship initiative supported by UT Knoxville and TVA. The Tennessee RiverLine has recently launched a prestigious Tennessee RiverTowns Program encouraging municipalities to celebrate, protect, and ultimately invest in their city, county or town’s relationship with the river. Every destination visited by the 2021 Tennessee River Grand Slam Cleanup Series is officially enrolled in the Tennessee RiverTowns Program.
“Ultimately, this river is why our cities and towns are here; it contributes to our food and water, our economy, our culture, and so much of our everyday lives,” said Gibi. “So many energized partners coming together to protect and beautify the Tennessee River is a win for our communities, and we see it as a sign that there are better days to come for this river system.”
This Tennessee River Grand Slam Cleanup is part of a nationwide effort known as the Great American Cleanup®, a signature program of national nonprofit Keep America Beautiful®. Through this far-reaching effort, which takes place from March 20 through June 20, the Keep America Beautiful national network of nearly 700 community-based affiliates host over 15,000 events and activities, engaging more than 500,000 volunteers and participants.
To register for a Tennessee River Grand Slam Cleanup, visit www.KeepTNRiverBeautiful.org.
Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful is the first Keep America Beautiful affiliate in the nation to focus solely on a river. They aim to rally communities along the Tennessee River and its tributaries to preserve, improve and protect the river for generations to come. To date, 1,800 volunteers have helped the organization to remove 215,000 lbs. of trash along the 652-mile Tennessee River and its tributaries.