A big turnout to the 26th Annual Tennessee River Rescue made the event a huge success.  Each year hundreds of volunteers turn out on the First Saturday in October to pull trash out of a large number of streams around the Chattanooga area.  This year we had 24 zones, with each zone having a zone captain and it’s own dumpsters to deposit the tires and trash collected from their elected area. Well over 800 individuals turned out this year, spread all the way from above Soddy Daisy to the Shellmound recreation area on Nickajack Lake.  Cleveland volunteers worked around Mouse Creek and folks in Collegedale cleaned along Wolftever Creek.  There were two zones on the North Chickamauga Creek and a group of scuba divers in Chickamauga Lake.

Having grown up in Brainerd and playing in the South Chickamauga Creek a lot in my youth, I have chosen to look after the “South Chick Zone”.  Over the last 20 years I have worked with a group called the South Chickamauga Creek Greenway Alliance who’s motto is “We Speak for the Creek”, advocating for conservation, recreation, public access and all things “Healthy” for the creek.  It is a delightful mix of private citizens and public officials from Tennessee and North Georgia that meet monthly to learn about and work towards making the Creek better because of our efforts. Anyone is welcome to join us at Wallys in East Ridge at noon on the fourth Wednesday of each month.  No dues, no commitments, no membership required.  Always a lot of interesting topics and activities, and usually a guest speaker discussing issues concerning the creek.

Sorry, back to the clean-up.  For the last few years we have been concentrating on a 2 1/2 mile section of the West Chickamauga Creek which connects with the South Chick at Camp Jordan in East Ridge.  Due to a number of unique factors, this section of creek is ideal for novice paddlers to have a safe, easily accessible, remote-feeling paddling experience very near urban Chattanooga.  Due to the meandering of the creek, the put-in and take out are within a few hundred yards of each other, with a pleasant paved walking track between the two.  Thanks to the Lyndhurst Foundation, two well designed and landscaped canoe launches have been installed at Camp Jordan for paddlers to have easier, more pleasant access to the creeks. Plans are in place for changing and restroom facilities to be built in the future and easier driving access to the launches.  More discussion about public access launches will be saved for future discussions.

54 volunteers actually signed in to help at Camp Jordan that morning.  Ruthie Fleming and Beth Johnson helped get people signed in and oriented.  Outdoor Chattanooga and McCallie School each brought 8 canoes to be used, and several other canoes, and a few kayaks showed up for the effort.  The weather was perfect and the water relatively low, which worked out just right for finding and removing tires and other debris that lay on the bottom of the creek.  In all, we removed 64 tires from the creek along with lots of bags of assorted trash.  There were a few large truck or tractor tires, some of which still had metal rims, that had to be left because of their weight and size.  It is quite a sight to see when you have a canoe loaded with several tires and a steel drum balanced on top.

I counted 22 TVCC members helping at this zone, yet I am sure we had members helping on the North Chick and other favored waterways. While some may have trouble getting over the “Yuck” factor, cleaning up our waterways is a great way to build your river karma and to receive a well deserved feeling of satisfaction.  Thanks to all that make this effort an annual success.

Jim Ledbetter, TVCC Conservation Chair