2018 Ijams River Rescue Marks Second Highest Trash Yield Since 1995, Breaks Record for Total Debris Collected from One Site

April 24th, 2018

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The 625 volunteers of the 29th annual Ijams River Rescue presented by TVA and Dow Chemical Company collected 39.7 tons of trash from East Tennessee’s waterways on April 7, making it the second highest amount collected since Ijams started tracking data from the cleanups.

The last time the numbers were this high was during the first three years Ijams tracked the event’s results. Amounts totaled 36 tons in 1995, 48 tons in 1996 and 35 tons in 1997.

What makes this year’s total even more interesting is that most of the trash—an estimated 30 tons—came from one location: An illegal dumping ground on Loves Creek. The City of Knoxville hauled away eight truckloads full of debris from that site alone, making it the dirtiest location in the annual cleanup’s history.

Even with this record-breaking site, the news is more good than bad: The remaining 41 sites together only yielded 9.7 tons of trash, which is on the low end of what has been collected since the mid ‘90s.

“After almost 30 years of holding this event, people seem to be more aware of the harm litter does to the environment,” said Ijams Executive Director Amber Parker. “We’re seeing a reduction in the amounts collected at sites we’ve been targeting for years, and it demonstrates that our community is making progress. However, we’re also finding dump sites that have been there for years at some of the new locations we added this year.”

In addition to the Loves Creek area, one of those old dump sites is on a former family homesite that Ijams recently purchased and plans to name the Grayson Subaru Preserve after the local car retailer that is donating funds to cover the cost of the site as well as additional funds to develop it into a protected nature play area for children.

Grayson Subaru, which also sponsored the Ijams River Rescue, had a team of volunteers who removed about 1,332 pounds of trash, most of it glass, and 112 tires—almost half of the 240 total collected—from the property on April 7.

Presenting Sponsors TVA and Dow also had teams that day. TVA’s 29 volunteers collected about 3,550 pounds of trash and 12 tires from Watts Bar. Dow had about 20 volunteers at its site, a location on Williams Creek in East Knoxville that had not been addressed for several years. The Dow team removed 1,100 pounds of trash and 27 tires from the location and the roadways around it.

In addition to the typical trash one expects to find during a cleanup such as aluminum cans, fast food wrappers, tires, Styrofoam and plastic bottles, this year’s cleanup also retrieved unusual items such as brass knuckles, two full gallons of milk, a toilet, a bathing suit, Elsa (Frozen) dolls, a car fuel tank, a child’s 2009 diary, a child’s wading pool, a television, a “rubber” duck from a River Race scull boat, a pair of shoes, a cell phone, a baker’s rack, two purses, several shopping carts, a toy skeleton, a Tonka toy truck, a diaper bag, a vacuum, a lamp, a car battery, two mattresses, a duck decoy, a football, an orange and white construction barrel and almost 10 overgrown home foundations with full plumbing and electrical.

Special thanks to everyone who participated in the cleanup, and to the event’s sponsors: Dow Chemical Company, TVA, City of Knoxville Stormwater Management, First Tennessee Foundation, Knoxville Open Water Swimmers, Grayson Subaru, Keurig Green Mountain, Lowe’s, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, American Rivers, Knoxville TVA Employees Credit Union, Thompson Engineering, Wood Realtors, AmeriCorps and Water Quality Forum.

Ijams Nature Center is a nonprofit, 315-acre educational nature center for all ages, abilities, and walks of life. Located just three miles from downtown Knoxville, Ijams features 12 miles of hiking and mixed-use trails, a public access river dock, swimming, boating, biking, and more. The Ijams grounds and trails are open every day from 8:00 a.m. until dusk. The Visitor Center is open Monday-Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, visit www.Ijams.org or call 865-577-4717.


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