Tennessee River Cleanup “If not us, who? If not now, when?”

By: Lynne Hart

Our local waterways are precious resources. Not only do they supply our drinking water, they provide habitats for our wildlife, recreation opportunities, and natural beauty. A stroll along the river or taking a seat to watch nature can be a great stress relief.

Unfortunately, some humans do not appreciate this tremendous resource. Secluded areas around our rivers become places to dump trash, tires, old appliances, furniture, and a myriad of other unwanted items. Trash and debris cause harm to the environment, endanger our wildlife, and can spoil what should be a peaceful experience along the river.

Litter and debris can also make its way to the water no matter how far away it is tossed. Wind, rain, and animals carry litter to ditches and streams which can then wash to lakes and rivers, and even to the ocean.

KALB and TVA sponsor an annual River Cleanup to help remove some of this unhealthy and dangerous trash. We need YOU!


Efforts will take place in and around the Tennessee River. Volunteers will work in teams. Boats, canoes, and kayaks are welcomed! If you’d like to clean litter and debris from the water, feel free to bring your watercraft.

Since most cleanup will be done away from roads, this is a great opportunity to involve youth. All volunteers must sign hold-harmless forms, and anyone under 18 must have one signed by a parent or guardian. The form can be emailed to a group leader to have them completed in advance, or they will be available at the sign-in table.

TIME: 8 a.m. to noon

MEETING LOCATION: Volunteers will sign in and receive supplies and instructions at Cowford Campground, 8700 Cowford Rd. (from Athens, take Brownsferry Rd. and turn left on Cowford Rd., which leads to the campground).

SUPPLIES PROVIDED: KALB and TVA will provide breakfast for volunteers as well as trash bags, mesh bags, gloves, litter grabbers, safety vests, and some buckets. The first 100 volunteers to register will receive a free litter grabber and reusable litter bag to take home. Volunteers may bring rakes, shovels, or other tools.

GENERAL INFORMATION: Remember to wear clothing and shoes appropriate for cleaning up trash and debris. Sunscreen or bug repellent is suggested according to the weather.

HOW TO REGISTER: Registering ahead of the event helps us prepare to have appropriate food and supplies. Send an email to KALBCares@gmail.com or call 256-233-8000 to let us know you are coming. Please provide names of each volunteer and if any are under the age of 18. We will also welcome anyone who decides to join us last minute. We can’t have too many volunteers!

Let’s do our best to care for this beautiful land God gave us here in the Tennessee Valley. As President John F. Kennedy said, “If not us, who? If not now, when?”

By: Lynne Hart – KALB Commission Member, Keep Athens-Limestone Beautiful