Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful (KTNRB) kicked off its Tennessee River Grand Slam Cleanup – and the Keep America Beautiful® Great American Cleanup® – at Pickwick Lake in Iuka, Mississippi, on Friday, March 15, and The Shoals in Alabama on Saturday, March 16.

Keep America Beautiful President and CEO Helen Lowman and Keep Tennessee Beautiful Executive Director Missy Marshall joined more than 100 volunteers and KTNRB sponsors for the first leg of the Grand Slam Cleanup.

Lowman presented KTNRB’s Executive Director Kathleen Gibi with a $10,000 Keep America Beautiful Community Restoration and Resiliency Fund (CRRF) grant to help with record-setting flood damage that affected most communities along the Tennessee River. In addition, the Pickwick community was recently hit with a tornado. The funds will enable KTNRB to clean up and restore damaged public infrastructure, according to Gibi.

On Saturday, the second leg of the Grand Slam Cleanup took place at Riverfront Park in Sheffield, Alabama, only days after flood waters receded from the park.  Living Lands & Waters founder Chad Pregracke provided inspiration for the volunteers at the day’s kickoff, and Keep Alabama Beautiful’s Denise Taylor joined the day’s cleanup to commemorate the CRRF grant. Keep The Shoals Beautiful provided breakfast biscuits and the volunteers enjoyed lunch from Dick Howell’s Barbeque after the cleanup. They capped off the day with a complimentary tour of Cypress Moon Studios, formerly the legendary Muscle Shoals Sound Studio.

KTNRB provided a fantastic start to the Great American Cleanup season, cleaning the river and sharing river camaraderie with volunteers from the four cities in the community: Sheffield, Muscle Shoals, Tuscumbia, and Florence. Half-way through the Grand Slam Cleanup, volunteers removed 8,940 pounds of litter and debris from the Tennessee River.

The Grand Slam Cleanup continued in April with the 30th Ijams River Rescue in Knoxville on April 6, and, on April 7, a cleanup at scenic Chickamauga Lake, Tennessee. Living Lands & Waters was part of the action as KTNRB cleans this beautiful Tennessee River reservoir two days prior to the Major League Fishing Bass Pro Tour (held on the lake, April 9-14). 

Pickwick Lake Cleanup – Friday, March 15
Volunteers: 131
Total Lbs.:  4,540 lbs. removed, 1,100 of which were recycled
Specific items: 131 bags of garbage, 3 regular tires, 10 lbs of random plastic, 5 lbs of scrap metal, 1 chair, 1 mattress, 50 sq ft of Styrofoam, a 400 lb dock float, a 200 lb tractor tire….and a message in a bottle!

The Shoals, AL Cleanup – Saturday, March 16
Volunteers: 37
Total Lbs.:  4,400 lbs. removed
Specific Items: 110 bags of garbage, 6 tires, 185 lbs of random plastic, 20 lbs of scrap metal, 14 buckets, ½ of a 55-gallon barrel, 1 chair, 60 ft of barge line, and 1 bowling ball

Ijams River Rescure, Saturday, April 6
Volunteers: 28
Total Lbs.: 2,316.5 lbs. removed
Specific items: 65 bags of garbage, 12 tires, 67 lbs. of random plastic, 220 lbs. of scrap metal, 2.5 chairs, 55 sq ft of styrofoam, 1 bed spread, 1 refrigerator, 1 industrial metal lawn roller, 1 construction cone, 1 metal billboard sign, and 1 styrofoam couch

Chickamauga Lake, Sunday, April 7
Volunteers: 25
Total lbs.: 2,359 lbs. removed
Specific Items: 45 bags of garbage, 32 tires, one tractor tire, 23 lbs. of random plastic, 2 chairs, 2 garbage cans, 3 sq ft of styrofoam, 5 ft of culvert, 1 construction cone, 2 kids’ ride along cars, 1 cooler, 2 gas cans, 1 pillow, 5 lbs. of couch cushion, and 1 message in a bottle.

*A message in a bottle or a bowling ball are considered grand prize treasures of river cleanups, so it’s really neat that each cleanup had such a find!

(Above: Keep America Beautiful and hundreds of volunteers helped clean the shorelines and waterways of the Tennessee River at Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful’s Grand Slam Cleanup.)