The Tennessee RiverLine, America’s next great regional trail system, marks a milestone on May 1, 2021, with a river stewardship event hosted by Clifton, Tennessee, and supported by multiple partner organizations. This event is the first official public event to be hosted by a river community that is participating in the Tennessee RiverLine’s Tennessee RiverTowns Program.
The public is invited to participate in Clifton’s Tennessee River cleanup and celebration, beginning at the Clifton City Marina at 10 a.m. To participate, individuals are asked to register.
Throughout the day, Clifton residents, volunteers and community leaders will remove trash from multiple locations in the Clifton and Wayne County area with support from team members of Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful (KTNRB), the Wayne County Beautification Project, and the Tennessee RiverLine. Some participants will clean from the shoreline, while others will remove trash from the river in KTNRB’s 25-foot work boat and other personal watercraft.
“The Tennessee River is extremely vital to our community,” said Mark Staggs, Mayor of Clifton. “It provides us with the water that we drink, the fish that we eat, the water we use to irrigate our crops and the water that we use to raise our livestock. It brings tourists to our community through numerous outdoor recreational activities which in turn stimulates our local economy and helps us grow as a Tennessee RiverLine destination. I cannot overemphasize how important it is that we keep this waterway clean and free of litter and debris not only for ourselves but also our children and grandchildren for generations to come. The bottom line is that we either take care of the river and enjoy all of its lifelong benefits or we lose it forever and destroy our river way of life, pure and simple.”
The event was inspired by residents’ participation in KTNRB’s Adopt-A-River-Mile program. After being challenged by local river champion, Cereice Morris, Clifton-area residents responded by adopting more than 40 miles of shoreline.
Building on this enthusiasm, the event also aligns with the Tennessee RiverLine’s commitment to inspire new generations of Tennessee River stewards.
“Through the Tennessee RiverTowns Program, 15 river communities, including Clifton, have made a commitment to raise awareness of the importance of the Tennessee River and to be active stewards of its health,” said Brad Collett, UT Associate Professor and Director of the Tennessee RiverLine. “We’re thrilled to see this commitment put into action through such robust collaboration in Clifton.”
With principal partners University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and Tennessee Valley Authority, the Tennessee RiverLine is a vision for a 652-mile system of paddle-hike-bike trail experiences along the Tennessee River. The initiative transforms the way Tennessee River communities and more than 2.4 million residents relate to, experience and care for the river. Each year, communities in the Tennessee RiverTowns Program will work with local partners to host one or more Tennessee River stewardship events to give residents an opportunity to learn about the challenges posed to the health of the river, such as micro plastics pollution, shoreline erosion and invasive species, and actively participate in addressing those challenges.
“This growing network of river stewards and invested partners will help ensure that all will be able to experience a healthy Tennessee River—our region’s most valuable natural and cultural resource—for generations to come,” said Collett.
Participants of the cleanup event in Clifton are asked to bring face coverings, bottled water, close-toed shoes and long pants. Health and safety protocols related to the COVID-19 pandemic will be observed. Trash will be placed in dumpsters provided by Wayne County and the Wayne County Beautification Project, which also will recycle all collected tires.
The Tennessee RiverLine is North America’s next great regional trail system, a historic multi-generational initiative that offers economic development, public health, equitable access and environmental stewardship benefits to 2.4 million people in diverse Tennessee River communities in four states. The Tennessee RiverLine is led by the UT School of Landscape Architecture and principal partners, UT Knoxville, and TVA, in collaboration with the Tennessee RiverLine Partnership, a diverse consortium of organizations committed to realizing the vision for the Tennessee RiverLine.
Registration for the 2022 cohort of Tennessee RiverTowns Program will open in summer 2021. Tennessee River communities interested in becoming a part of the Tennessee RiverLine by enrolling in the program can visit tnriverline.org/rivertowns.
For more information about the Tennessee RiverLine and other upcoming Tennessee RiverTowns community events, visit tnriverline.org.
Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful, led by Executive Director Kathleen Gibi, is the first affiliate of Keep America Beautiful to focus solely on a river. For more information about KTNRB, visit keeptnriverbeautiful.org.