Volunteers pull nearly 10 tons of trash during Tennessee River Celebration Month in October

Photo of Chattanooga Group Portrait

Over 200 volunteers participated in four river clean-ups hosted by Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful in three states this October, helping to remove 19,304 pounds — or nearly 10 tons — of trash from the Tennessee River.

The fifth annual river cleanup series had record volunteer turnout this October, proclaimed by Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee and Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear as “Keep the Tennessee River Watershed Beautiful Month.” This year, celebration month had a title sponsorship of Oris Watches USA, with volunteer support for the series up 54 percent from last year’s record of 130 volunteers across six cleanups.

“Participation in our cleanup has been phenomenal – it’s almost like volunteering to help the
Tennessee River has gone viral, but in real life,” said Kathleen Gibi, executive director of KTNRB. “At a time when neighboring river systems are suffering from drought, I think people are realizing how precious our water is and are flocking to our cleanup efforts because they see they have the power to make a significant, tangible difference close .”

After the four cleanups in October, KTNRB has reached 104,997 lbs. of garbage away from the
Tennessee River watershed alone in 2022 by 489 volunteers.

Ms. Gibi also pointed to local, state and national partners for the series’ high attendance this year.

Volunteers participating in the cleanup received swag from Oris, a Swiss watchmaker that has a long history of supporting water quality and environmental conservation efforts, officials said.

“Oris was thrilled to partner with Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful for four cleanups in 2022,” said VJ Geronimo, CEO North America, Oris. “Working with hundreds of volunteers and Oris enthusiasts to remove almost five tonnes of rubbish has been rewarding and most importantly, impactful. We look forward to continuing our collaboration as part of our Change For The Better program.”

In addition to Oris’ sponsorship of the cleanup series, the Tennessee Valley Authority, the Tennessee Department of Transportation, the Nobody Trashes Tennessee Elimination Campaign, and Keep Tennessee Beautiful have consistently maintained Keep the Tennessee River Watershed Beautiful Month since its inception in 2018 funded, officials said.

This year’s series consisted of four cleanups conducted in partnership with the national non-profit organization Living
Lands & Waters, who brought their 30-foot workboats to complement KTNRB’s two workboats.
Of the 19,304 lbs. Of the trash removed in these four cleanups last month, 201 volunteers helped remove 626 trash bags and 60 tires, among many other items.

Here’s a breakdown of the totals for each purge:

1 October, Knoxville – (Fort Loudoun Lake) | 5,763 pounds. | 49 volunteers;
2 October, Chattanooga – (Lake Chickamauga) | 2,873 pounds. | 65 volunteers;
Oct. 21, Counce, Tn./Iuka, Ms. (Pickwick Lake) | 4,341 pounds. | 59 volunteers; and
22 October, Benton, Kentucky (Kentucky Lake) | 6,327 pounds. | 28 volunteers.

Ms. Gibi said many local partners have made the series a success, including:

– Knoxville: Duncan Boat Dock, Keep Knoxville Beautiful, Knox County Solid Waste and University of
Tennessee students;
– Chattanooga: Chester Frost Park, Keep Soddy Daisy Beautiful and The Weber School;
– Counce, Tn./Iuka, Ms.: Pickwick Landing State Park, Hardin County Solid Waste and Keep Iuka Beautiful, Pickwick Parrot Heads, Caterpillar-Reman, Clayton Homes-Savannah, Stryker-MS and Hardin County Fishing Club; and
– Benton, Kentucky: Town and Country Marina, Waste Path Services, Land Between the Lakes, Friends of Land Between the Lakes and Murray State University students.

After reaching almost 105,000 lbs. With rubbish removed from waterways in 2022 alone, KTNRB has brought together nearly 3,000 volunteers to remove over 435,000 pounds to date. Garbage since the nonprofit started in 2016.

Ms Gibi said they have come a long way since the early years when they removed around £15,000. a year.

“Our growing volunteer base is a really inspiring force, and what’s really encouraging is that many of them are continuing their own clean-up efforts now that we’ve moved to the next town,” Ms. Gibi said. “You enable real change for our waterways and it is an honor to work with so many enthusiastic changemakers every day.”

For information on the ongoing Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful programs or river cleanup schedule, visit www.KeepTNReverBeautiful.org.