By Emily Williams, Assistant Features Editor
In an effort to keep the Tennessee River clean, the Tennessee Valley Authority, Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful and the Tennessee Department of Transportation are sponsoring two separate cleanup projects – one at Paris Landing State Park on March 17 and another at Land Between the Lakes on March 18. Murray State student organizations have been asked to lend a helping hand to make this effort the best it can be.
Laura Howard, program coordinator for Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful, said she believes the Tennessee River is vital to the community in all aspects.
“The river supports our economy by serving as a means for cargo to industries up and down the river, to tourism and tourism dollars coming into our area,” Howard said. “For those interested in our environment, getting litter out of the river is also essential for the health of the river and all the wildlife that uses it.”
Howard said this is a great opportunity for students to be good community stewards. She said there is no single entity that protects the river from the harm that we do to it.
Missy Marshall, executive director of Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful, said they partner with an organization called Living Lands and Waters, founded by 2013 CNN Hero of the Year Chad Pregracke. She said this organization provides industrial-sized boats for the cleanup.
“Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful is part of the overall organization Keep America Beautiful,” Marshall said. “We saw the importance of this project because the majority of highway litter will find its way into waterways. So, if you combine the amount of litter from boating with litter from the roadways, it can pile up. It piles up pretty quickly.”
Marshall said this is the organization’s second year conducting this cleanup project. She said they had nearly 50 volunteers and collected more than 3,800 pounds of debris along the river in just two hours during their first cleanup.
Howard said their biggest goal is to protect the river.
“You can be on the river and not see the garbage, and once you pull up you can see the large amounts of garbage,” Howard said. “So, we want to inspire others to protect the river, whether it’s making conscious decisions that will no longer make negative impact, such as not littering, or to organize cleanups to engage others.”
Alyssa Allen, president of the Murray Environmental Student Society, said they will be participating in the cleanup at LBL on Saturday.
“We regularly participate in cleanups, like the Clarks River cleanup, as well as doing roadside and campus cleanups,” Allen said. “In fact, one of our events this year for Earth Week is a campus-wide cleanup. We also encourage our members to pick up trash they see in their everyday lives. We always try to leave wherever we have been better than when we came.”
Allen said they hope to lend a hand in healing the environment.
“The environment will benefit from the removal of harmful pollution due to human activity and become a healthier place for the creatures that live there,” Allen said. “MESS and Murray State will benefit by having a cleaner, healthier environment to enjoy. We also hope to positively represent Murray State and MESS as a whole to the people we interact with during the cleanup.”
The cleanup at Paris Landing State Park will take place at the Inn and will begin at noon with a luncheon provided by Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful and will conclude at 4 p.m. after boarding boats clean up along the river banks. The Land Between the Lakes project will take place at Fenton Campground at 9:30 a.m. followed by a volunteer luncheon. Any and all students are encouraged to attend, join in the effort and lend an extra helping hand.
Photo courtesy of keeptnriverbeautiful.org.