22,276 Pounds of Trash Pulled, 8 Proclamations and 25 Award Winners Across Four States

October was recognized as ‘Keep the Tennessee River Watershed Beautiful Month’ across the four states of Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, and Kentucky—and there was quite a bit to show for it!

The results of the month’s celebrations include 22,276 pounds of trash removed, eight proclamations by four governors and four mayors, and 25 award recipients recognized in the 1st annual Ripple Effect Awards presented by Yamaha Rightwaters™.

“It’s been inspiring to see so many volunteers, businesses, governments, and elected officials all come together for the cause of the Tennessee River watershed,” said Kathleen Gibi, executive director for Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful (KTNRB). “We released the slogan, ‘Your River. Your Impact.’ during October, and we’ve seen a diverse network of river champions willing to do what it takes for that positive impact on our river.”

River Cleanups

‘Keep the Tennessee River Watershed Beautiful Month’ kicked off with two large KTNRB cleanups, in which it partnered with national river cleanup nonprofit, Living Lands & Waters (LL&W). Volunteers were transported to shorelines by five 30-foot-long boats brought in by LL&W staff to supplement KTNRB’s boat. LL&W helped to celebrate National Public Lands Day in Lenoir City, Tennessee, on Sept. 28, and then again in Knoxville, Tennessee, on Sept. 29, to officially kick off the upcoming, month-long celebration. 

The two Tennessee cleanups were in large part funded by the Tennessee Department of Transportation’s special litter grant. KTNRB then spent the rest of the month traveling along the river, hosting four additional cleanups within the four states that the river touches.

The river cleanups were sponsored by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT), Yamaha Rightwaters™, KTNRB, Keep Alabama Beautiful, Keep Mississippi Beautiful, Friends of Land Between the Lakes, Kenlake State Resort Park, The Lakeside Tavern in Knoxville, Calhoun’s at the Marina in Lenoir City, Aqua Yacht Grille in Iuka, Mississippi, the City of Guntersville, Alabama, Lake Guntersville State Park, Knox County Solid Waste, and Hardin County Solid Waste.

The combined seven cleanup events in four states saw 22,276 pounds of trash removed by a total of 171 volunteers. Here’s a quick breakdown of the cleanup totals:

Proclamations by Elected Officials

Earlier in the year, TVA tasked KTNRB with pursuing proclamations from the governors of the four states touched by the Tennessee River for the purpose of declaring October as ‘Keep the Tennessee River Watershed Beautiful Month.’ 

Ultimately, the governors of all four states as well as four mayors issued proclamations. Proclamations were made by: Tennessee Governor Bill Lee, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey, Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant, Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin, as well as Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero, Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs, Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke, and Guntersville Mayor Leigh Dollar.

“We’re grateful to these elected officials for making public proclamations about the importance of our river,” said Gibi. “We saw firsthand over the last month how statements from the leaders of our communities can ignite action at many different levels.”

In fact, when Cash ‘The Conservation Kid’ Daniels, one of the Tennessee Ripple Effect Award recipients, saw that Knoxville and Knox County had made proclamations for the month, he wanted the mayor of his home town in Chattanooga to be included. Cash himself submitted the request for the proclamation, and Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke soon made a proclamation of his own for the month-long river celebration!

“Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful Watershed Month was an incredible show of support for an invaluable body of water, but it was also a celebration of the unsung heroes who spend their precious time and effort to keep it that way,” said Kyle Howard, KTNRB Board President.

Here is the complete list of award recipients of the Ripple Effect Awards, presented by Yamaha Rightwaters™.