Ijams River Rescue Removes Close to 37 Tons of Trash From Area Waterways

April 24th, 2019

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The 30th annual Ijams River Rescue presented by TVA with support from Lowe’s collected 36.8 tons of trash and tires from 33 sites in and along East Tennessee’s waterways on April 6, 2019, once again removing a significant amount from Loves Creek.

Volunteers and crews from the City of Knoxville removed 19 tons from one site along the creek at the end of Loves Creek Road behind Food City. The City, which also sponsored this year’s event, carted away two nine-ton truckloads of shingles, along with construction debris such as wood, siding and paint cans at this site.

“It’s disheartening to find a site where someone has dumped so much construction debris,” said Ijams Executive Director Amber Parker. “Ijams, other organizations, neighborhood associations and thousands of volunteers have been cleaning up this community for decades, yet there are still people who seem to care more about avoiding fees than protecting the environment. When will they realize that protecting the earth is important? They live here too.”

The event brought 680 volunteers out to clean up the community. They removed 1,646 bags of garbage and 449 tires from sites in Knox, Anderson, Blount and Loudon counties.

“It was an interesting cleanup,” Ijams Volunteer Coordinator Lauren Bird said. “When the waters receded from the flooding we had earlier in the year, we found a lot of debris many feet from the shore and in the trees.”

One of Ijams River Rescue’s sponsors, Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful (KTNRB), and a crew from Living Lands & Waters also participated in the event as part of KTNRB’s Tennessee River Grand Slam Cleanup, which covered 400+ miles of river in four weeks. Three boat teams comprising 25 volunteers removed 2,359 pounds of trash, including 33 tires, during the Knoxville leg of the group’s four-city cleanup from Iuka, Miss., to Dayton, Tenn.

In addition to the typical trash volunteers find during a cleanup such as aluminum cans, tires, Styrofoam and plastic bottles, this year’s cleanup also retrieved unusual items such as a hot water heater, refrigerator, a fishing pole, multiple lawn chairs, the top of a boat’s storage compartment, a plastic ear of corn, a couch cushion, a rusted metal billboard sign, a fire extinguisher, car parts and a rain barrel.

Ijams appreciates everyone who helped make the 2019 Ijams River Rescue a success. This event would not have been possible without the generous support of TVA, Lowe’s, City of Knoxville Stormwater Management, Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful, Dow, First Tennessee Foundation, Grayson Subaru, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, Thompson Engineering, WestRock CP, LLC, WUTK 90.3 The Rock, American Rivers, AmeriCorps, Knoxville TVA Employees Credit Union, Waste Connections, and the Water Quality Forum.

Ijams Nature Center is a nonprofit, 315-acre educational nature center for all ages, abilities and walks of life. Ijams’ mission is to encourage stewardship of the natural world by providing an urban greenspace for people to learn about and enjoy the outdoors through engaging experiences. 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 center offers hundreds of educational programs annually, from school field trips and off-site programs to on-site outdoor and classroom education programs that focus on topics from birding and wildflowers to yoga hikes, cooking classes and art programs. The Ijams grounds and trails are open every day from 8 a.m. until dusk. The Visitor Center is open Monday through Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, visit Ijams.org or call 865-577-4717.

Volunteers at the April 6 Ijams River Rescue tackled three sites on Loves Creek as well as 30 other sites. Some of the 22 Loves Creek volunteers at the site behind Walmart stand by some of the trash they collected. Another Loves Creek site at the dead end of Loves Creek Road was the dirtiest site of the cleanup; City of Knoxville crews and 10 volunteers removed more than 38,340 pounds of trash–most of it construction materials–from that site. 

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