The Environmental Journal of Southern Appalachia

Event Archive (204)

Wednesday, 05 June 2024 20:03

HBG Program: Cryptocurrencies and Climate Change Casualties Featured

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KNOXVILLE John Nolt, a member of the Sierra Club’s Harvey Broome Group executive committee and professor emeritus in philosophy at the University of Tennessee, will present a program about cryptocurrencies and their detrimental long-term effects on the environment. Cryptocurrency “mines” (data centers, really) pull enormous quantities of power from the electrical grid.

Thus they are attracted to states like Tennessee where electric power is relatively cheap.

The event is set for 7-8:30 p.m. June 11 at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church, 2931 Kingston Pike, Knoxville.

Last modified on Monday, 17 June 2024 15:13
Wednesday, 05 June 2024 18:07

Learn the basics and beauty of freshwater snorkeling at a Conservation Fisheries panel

HEAD1Andrew Zimmerman

KNOXVILLE — Join Conservation Fisheries, Inc. and other experts for a discussion on how to HEAD UNDERWATER to snorkel and enjoy the beautiful underwater biodiversity of the Southern Appalachians.

The free event is set for 6-8 p.m. June 15 at Remedy Coffee, 800 Tyson Place, Knoxville.

The panel will be led by CFI Director Bo Baxter; Casper Cox from Hidden Rivers of Southern Appalachia; Jennifer Webster from Little River Watershed Association; and TVA Fisheries Biologist Justin Wolbert. 

Last modified on Monday, 17 June 2024 09:48
Thursday, 23 May 2024 17:49

Learn about TVA’s switch from coal to natural gas at June 12 teach-in

 AppVoices 25th anniversary logo horiz white outline
Join Appalachian Voices and allies for a teach-in examining the Tennessee Valley Authority’s plans to replace coal with natural gas as its primary energy source in many locations.
The event is set for 6 p.m. June 12 at the Birdhouse Neighborhood Center, 804 N. 4th Ave. near the 4th and Gill neighborhood in Knoxville. Food will be served until 6:30 p.m. outdoors; attendees are asked to wear masks indoors.
TVA is gearing up for the largest gas buildout of any utility this decade, swapping coal for gas. This would include a new gas plant at the site of the Kingston Coal Ash Spill, and the 122-mile Ridgeline pipeline.
Ridgeline would be built and owned by the multibillion-dollar company Enbridge Inc., and affect state waterways in more than 400 locations.
The TVA Board of Directors could stop this project, and the gas buildout, in its tracks.
Last modified on Monday, 17 June 2024 15:09

Golden Press Card clear 

The honor continues Hellbender Press’s tradition of excellence in journalism.

KNOXVILLE — Hellbender Press: The Environmental Journal of Southern Appalachia, was honored with a first-place award by the East Tennessee Society of Professional Journalists (ETSPJ) for its probe into a controversial municipal airport proposed by the city of Oak Ridge.

Reporters Wolf Naegeli and Ben Pounds and Hellbender Press editor and publisher Thomas Fraser accepted the award during ETSPJ’s 2023 Golden Press Card awards, held May 16 at Maple Hall in downtown Knoxville. The honors, which are bestowed upon television, radio, print and digital media, “strive to honor the best journalism in the eastern region of Tennessee from the past year,” according to ETSPJ.

Hellbender Press was honored with first place in the digital space for its investigation into the proposed airport, which the city maintains would juice economic development, especially in the high-tech business realm. 

Last modified on Monday, 20 May 2024 21:48
Monday, 13 May 2024 15:23

Celebrate National Trails Day with a work party in Oak Ridge

North Ridge Trail Trail Day 3

OAK RIDGE Tennessee Citizens for Wilderness Planning and the North Ridge Trail maintenance volunteers invite everyone to our 2024 National Trails Day work project on the North Ridge Trail.

Work on the Orchard Lane access trail will begin at 9 a.m. June 1.

The access trail is located along a water drainage route. Erosion along the ditch has made the trail difficult to follow. We will work to relocate the first 130 feet of the access trail away from the water route.

Bring drinking water, sunscreen, insect repellent and good gloves. TCWP will provide some work tools, but feel free to bring any of your personal tools, including grubbing tools such as mattocks, Pulaskis, fire rakes, rogue hoes and/or McLeods fire tools. After the work is completed, a pizza lunch will be provided a short drive from the work location.

Last modified on Monday, 17 June 2024 15:10
Thursday, 25 April 2024 18:17

You feel lucky? Smokies sets synchronous firefly lottery. Featured

GATLINBURG  Great Smoky Mountains National Park will host the annual synchronous firefly viewing opportunity at Elkmont from Monday, June 3 through Monday, June 10. The public may apply for the limited viewing opportunity by entering a lottery for a vehicle reservation through

The lottery opens for reservation applications on Friday, April 26 at 10 a.m. EDT and closes Monday, April 29 at 11:59 p.m. EDT. Using the lottery system ensures everyone who applies for a reservation has an equal chance of getting one. 

Last modified on Monday, 17 June 2024 15:12

Sharing the love: Grayson Subaru presents $39K check to Ijams Nature Center

Ijams Jerry Weaver Hailey Manus Jennie McGuigan Amber Parker Sarah Brobst JC Marquardt Melanie Thomas Gianni Tesfaye Joseph Bailey Joseph Mack Ben NannyGrayson Subaru presented a check for $39,000 from Subaru of America’s 2023 Subaru Share the Love Event to Ijams Nature Center on April 24. Funds will be used to expand the popular Ijams Nature Playscape at Grayson Subaru Preserve and the Mead’s Quarry Lake swim area.  Ijams Nature Center

KNOXVILLE — Grayson Subaru gave $39,000 to Ijams Nature Center to expand the popular Ijams Nature Playscape at Grayson Subaru Preserve and the Mead’s Quarry Lake swim area.

The local retailer chose the nonprofit nature center as its hometown charity for Subaru of America Inc.’s 2023 Subaru Share the Love® Event. From Nov. 15, 2023, to Jan. 2, Subaru and its retailers donated a minimum of $300 for every new Subaru vehicle purchased or leased at more than 628 of its retailers nationwide to several national charities and a hometown charity chosen by each retailer.

“Subaru of America and Grayson Subaru are committed to the communities we serve,” Subaru Sales Manager JC Marquardt said. “We do that by showing support in ways that make a meaningful difference, and we’re incredibly grateful to our customers, who share our values and are committed to doing the same. This is a proud day for all of us.”

Work has already begun on Phase 2 of the Ijams Nature Playscape.

“Thus far, Ijams staff have scouted the new trail and, with the help of 115 trained volunteers, removed invasive species from about one acre of the new section,” Ijams President and CEO Amber Parker said. “This is the most time-consuming part of the process, because there is a more diverse mix of invasive and native species, and removal has to be done by hand.”

In addition to preparing the upper section of the 13.46-acre property, Ijams is planning a new feature to Phase 1 of the playscape after conducting a survey of the people who were using it.

“We learned that people wanted a way to cross through the mushier spots of the floodplain in an area we call the ‘Soggy Bottom Room,’ so we’re creating a narrow path of wood over utility poles to make a bog walkway,” she said. “We recently salvaged a large palette that was mired in the mud along the Tennessee River and will use that reclaimed wood in the project. There are perks to having an Ijams River Captain keeping our waterways clear!”

Parker said improvements to the Mead’s Quarry swim area will start at a later date.

Tuesday, 23 April 2024 00:25

Chattanooga Earth Day Week continues

Earth Week Poster Billboard Landscape

Last modified on Sunday, 28 April 2024 22:27
Thursday, 18 April 2024 06:35

Happy Earth Day to you

Written by

2017 Eclipse GIF dscovr epic 21 aug 2017 solar eclipse shadowThis image of Earth captures the 2017 eclipse shadow.  NASA

Get dirty. Get wet. Have fun. Love your mother.

Celebrate our planet’s beauty and bounty at one of many Earth Day events in the region this weekend and beyond. You can pick up trash, kayak a river and even get sustainable fashion tips and tricks. 

The official observation of Earth Day 2024 is Monday, April 22, but ways to give back and respect the Earth abound for days before and after. Here’s a sampling of observations and activities. And remember: Every day should be Earth Day.


— Little River Watershed Association plans its annual cleanup and paddle for 12-4 p.m. Saturday, April 20. Participants will put in at Peery’s Mill near Townsend and remove trash from the river for about three hours before taking out at Sevierville Bridge. Albright Grove Brewery will offer beer after the cleanup. A limited number of kayaks are available for use, and a shuttle is available. Get more information and sign up here.

— Keep Knoxville Beautiful will hold the South Knoxville Community Cleanup from 9 a.m. until noon Saturday, April 20 starting at Mary Vestal Park, 522 Maryville Pike, Knoxville. The group is removing litter from South Knoxville streams, roads and parks. All reserved spots are full, but Amanda Seale, director of programs for Keep Knoxville Beautiful said her group still welcomes help from anyone who shows up.

— The third annual Fleurish: A Sustainable Fashion Event (and Fundraiser) at Ijams Nature Center will bring eco-friendly and sustainable Punk vs. Funk designs to the runway Sunday, April 21. Tickets are $30 and are available at All proceeds support Ijams Nature Center. The cocktail hour from 6 until 7 p.m. will feature photo ops on the “green” carpet, education stations and information about conservation efforts in the fashion realm, as well as a cash bar featuring punk and funk signature cocktails, and food from Coffee & Chocolate, Cafe 4, and The Kennedy. The fashion show will feature clothing with sustainable, reused and recycled materials from 25 designers. Following the fashion show, attendees will be able to meet the artists, designers, and models on the nature center’s hillside. Brent Hyder and Duck Experience will provide live music. Ijams Visitor Services Director Sarah Brobst said there may be some surprise elements as well.

“Fleurish shows how the average consumer can make changes to their day-to-day lives while never losing sight of the beauty of nature and the human experience,” she said. She encouraged the audience to come dressed in their favorite punk or funk fashions.

— The University of Tennessee will host an Earth Day Festival from 11 until 2 p.m. April 22 at the Student Union Plaza.

“Come meet campus and community organizations, enter some giveaways, participate in sustainable activities, and more!,” according to organizers. Other Earth Week events will continue on and near the campus that week. A full list of them is online

Last modified on Tuesday, 23 April 2024 00:14

City Nature Challenge logo 

KNOXVILLE — People across 13 counties in East Tennessee are urged to record animals, plants and fungi they observe for four days in late April.

City Nature Challenge 2024 is international, but the Knoxville-area challenge includes anyone in Anderson, Blount, Campbell, Claiborne, Grainger, Jefferson, Knox, Loudon, Morgan, Roane, Scott, Sevier and Union counties. It will run April 26 through April 29 via the iNaturalist app, which is available on Google play or the App Store. While the focus is largely centered on urban areas, participants don’t have to live within a city or town to record their observations.

Participants can upload photos from a digital camera to the iNaturalist website even if they lack a smartphone. Zoo Knoxville, Tennessee Butterfly Monitoring Challenge, the city of Knoxville, Ijams Nature Center, Sierra Club, South Doyle Middle School and Discover Life in America are partnering to support the project. No experience is needed to participate. Results will be announced on May 6.

Last modified on Wednesday, 01 May 2024 11:04
Friday, 05 April 2024 07:10

View the partial eclipse in the Park

Eclipse KoutchmyThe central, dark image shows the total eclipse on March 9, 2016 from Earth, with the central pupil created by the sun covered by a dark moon as seen from the NASA and ESA Solar and Heliospheric Observatory. Faint structures in the sun’s corona extend outward from this disk with the corona imaged in white light, easily visible from the ground only during an eclipse.  NASA 

GATLINBURG  A total solar eclipse will be visible across a swath of the United States on April 8, stretching from Texas to Maine. Great Smoky Mountains National Park lies outside the path of totality but will experience an 86 to 87 percent obstruction of the sun during the event.

In the Smokies, viewers will experience a partial eclipse, when the moon only partially blocks the sun. In the national park, the moon will begin its intersection of the sun’s orbit at 1:49 p.m., the obstruction will reach its maximum extent at 3:08 p.m., and the event will conclude at 4:23 p.m. 

A total eclipse is lineup of the sun, the moon, and Earth. The moon will be directly between the sun and Earth, casting a shadow on Earth. A total eclipse occurs when the moon covers the entirety of the sun except for the corona, or sun’s atmosphere.

Viewing a solar eclipse without proper eye protection is dangerous and can result in long-term vision impairment or blindness. Regular sunglasses — no matter how dark — are not safe for viewing the eclipse. To ensure safe viewing, park staff will make available one free pair of glasses per family/group at the viewing locations listed below while supplies last. If visitors wish to have enough glasses for everyone in their group to view the eclipse at the same time, they will need to bring eclipse glasses along or purchase them. The park’s retail partner, Smokies Life, will have the glasses available for sale ($1.50 each) at park store locations.

Park staff and volunteers will be available to provide eclipse information and safe, facilitated viewing at the following locations from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.:

  • Newfound Gap parking lot

  • Various locations around Cades Cove Loop Road, including near the John Oliver Cabin and at the Cades Cove Overlook

  • Outside the Oconaluftee Visitor Center
A Junior Ranger Eclipse Explorer activity book will be available for free at the above locations for anyone who wants to earn a Junior Ranger Eclipse Explorer badge.
The next total eclipse visible from the United States will occur in 2044.
— Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Last modified on Saturday, 13 April 2024 01:00
Wednesday, 03 April 2024 08:19

Be comfortably adventurous with the 2024 Eco-Adventure

Eco Camp Adventure 1200 400 px 10

The 4th annual Great Smokies Eco-Adventure, based at Camp Atagahi, promises you a unique, memorable experience

The event is hosted by Discover Life in America (DLiA) and A Walk in the Woods Guide Service. This exciting fundraising event features “glamping” (glamorous camping), gourmet food and drink, as well as guided nature hikes in the Smokies — including an excursion on the Appalachian Trail in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, during peak wildflower season.

The Eco-Adventure will be held Sunday, April 21-23 near Gatlinburg, and all proceeds support DLiA’s mission to conduct biodiversity research in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Tickets are limited.

Discover Life in America’s mission is connecting communities and scientists in discovering, understanding and conserving the natural world. DLiA’s flagship project, the ATBI (All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory), is a joint effort with the National Park Service to identify and understand every species within Great Smoky Mountains National Park. To date, DLiA has helped add 12,083 species to the inventory of life in the park, including 1,079 that are new to science. Learn more at

Last modified on Tuesday, 23 April 2024 00:35

Broken plastic toys found by volunteersOdd robotic forms were among the every-worldly items pulled by volunteers from the Tennessee River and its tributaries earlier this month.  Courtesy Ijam’s Nature Center.

Betty Boop recovered from drink during widespread river cleanup

KNOXVILLE Rain didn’t stop 441 volunteers from cleaning up the community’s waterways during the 35th annual Ijams River Rescue on March 9.

They tackled trash at 31 sites in Knox and Blount counties, filling 1,097 bags with garbage weighing an estimated 21,958 pounds (10.48 tons). That doesn’t include the weight of 46 tires and large items such as household appliances, furniture and car parts.

Plastic and Styrofoam waste was common in all areas, but Ijams River Rescue volunteers found items such as a robot puppy, drug paraphernalia, an antique lounge chair, a full patio set, suitcase, Betty Boop doll and shoes, sofas, stove parts, traffic barrels, a car seat, sports gear, a “nice watch” and a $10 bill.

Last modified on Saturday, 23 March 2024 20:25

Updated: TWRA plans adjustments to hunting laws, seeks public input

TWRA logo

WAVERLY — The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency will preview its recommendations for the 2024-25 hunting and trapping seasons at the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission’s March 21-22 meeting at Buffalo Ridge Refuge in Humphreys County.

Thursday committee meetings begin at 1 p.m. while full commission session starts at 9 a.m. Friday.

Wildlife and Forestry Assistant Chief Wally Akins will share proposed changes to wildlife management areas and the furbearer season. Wildlife and Forestry Assistant Chief Mark McBride will follow with proposals for the “Take of Raptors for Falconry and Migratory Game Bird Seasons.” His presentation will conclude with big game harvest summaries and proposed season changes, including recommendations for the new deer and turkey management units and season dates.

The 2024-25 season setting comment period ended on January 15th. TWRA advises you to check its public comments page after the March commission meeting for a link to provide comments on the season recommendations presented at the meeting. The commission will vote on the proposed regulations at its April 18-19 meeting in Johnson City.

Update: You now have until April 12 to review and comment on the proposals.

This 90-year-old theater is on a mission to provide a space for Black artists

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ABINGDON — A historic Southern theatre is fostering the next wave of Black playwrights through Black Stories Black Voices, making a visible impact in the Southern Appalachian theatre community and beyond. 
While theaters nationwide face declining numbers, Barter Theatre is experiencing a surge in audiences eager to witness the creativity of Black artists.
Since the founding of Black Stories, Black Voices in 2020, organizers and artists alike have seen an outpouring of support:
— Growing audiences, especially among Black community members.
— Doubled submissions for play development.
— Becoming a go-to resource for discovering Black talent in theatre.
The 90-year-old Barter Theatre of Abingdon, Virginia is on a mission to provide a safe space for Black artists and audiences to share their stories and assert their belonging in American theatre. In the past four years, it’s become clear: Barter isn’t just a safe space for Black artists — it’s drawing larger, enthusiastic audiences too.
Cris Eli Blak is the latest playwright to participate in Barter’s initiative, which engages Black theatre makers from across the Southern states to identify, develop and present the region’s Black stories on stage. A winner of the 2024 Appalachian Festival of Plays & Playwrights, his play “Girl on a Hill” will be performed on Feb. 23.

— Barter Theatre

Justin Pearson addresses People’s Voice on TVA’s Energy PlanTennessee state Rep. Justin J. Pearson speaks to community members assembled for the evening discussion during the People’s Voice on TVA’s Energy Plan.  John Waterman/Appalachian Voices

A lack of public process brought together a coalition of environmental organizations 

NASHVILLE  In every state except Tennessee, for-profit utilities and their regulators are required to get public input about energy-resource planning.

These Integrated Resource Plans (IRPs) provide an opportunity for a utility to demonstrate that the ratepayer money the utility spends is on the best mix of energy investments that meet this objective. 

In Tennessee, however, TVA, which is the nation’s largest public power provider, has no process for engaging the public on its IRPs.

It is this lack of public process that brought a coalition of environmental organizations together to host a mock public hearing in a Nashville church last month presided by Ted Thomas, former chair of Georgia Center for Energy Solutions. Their goal was to call attention to the fact that TVA acts more like a corporation or a self-regulated monopoly than as a public utility. The groups say that lack of public involvement in the process harms Tennesseeans across the board. 

Last modified on Saturday, 23 March 2024 21:16

Come talk words with writers at Tremont conference in Smokies

2023 TWC morning workshop Michele SonsWriters discuss their craft during the 2023 Tremont Writers Conference, which returns in October.  GSMIT

TOWNSEND — Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont this fall will host the second annual Tremont Writers Conference, an intensive five-day retreat for writers of fiction, nonfiction and poetry coordinated in partnership with Smokies Life, formerly Great Smoky Mountains Association.

Applications to participate in the event may be submitted online through April 30. 

From Wednesday, Oct. 23, through Sunday, Oct. 27, a small group of selected writers will join renowned authors and professional park educators on Tremont’s campus in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Participants will enjoy brainstorming and fine-tuning their work with award-winning author workshop leaders while also learning and writing throughout the day. 


The Southern Environmental Law Center congratulates this year’s Reed Environmental Writing Award winners — Emily Strasser, David Folkenflik, Mario Ariza, and Miranda Green — who all demonstrate the power of writing to capture some of the most important environmental issues facing Southern communities. 

Emily Strasser receives the Reed Award for “Half-Life of a Secret: Reckoning with a Hidden History.” In the book, Strasser examines the toxic legacy of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, one of three secret cities constructed by the Manhattan Project for developing the first atomic bomb. She exposes a suppressed history that forever impacted her family, a community, the nation, and the world. 

David Folkenflik with NPR, and Mario Ariza and Miranda Green with Floodlight, receive the Reed Award for their story, “In the Southeast, power company money flows to news sites that attack their critics.” Their investigation digs into a consulting firm working on behalf of electric utility giants in Alabama and Florida. The team uncovers how money flows from the firm to influence local news sites to push the utilities’ agenda​s​ and attack their critics. 

Everyone is invited to join for a celebration honoring the winners and the 30th anniversary of the Reed Award in person or virtually on March 22 at 5:00 p.m. The in-person event will take place at the CODE Building, located at 225 West Water Street on the Downtown Mall in Charlottesville, VA.

Last modified on Saturday, 23 March 2024 16:46

You’re invited to the annual Big South Fork and Obed science meeting


ONEIDA — On March 13, 2024 the National Park Service will host its annual public science meeting at Historic Rugby Visitor Center at 1331 Rugby Parkway, Rugby, Tennessee.

The public is invited to spend the day with scientists who have been conducting research at Obed Wild and Scenic River, Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, and other areas on the Cumberland Plateau.

A wide range of topics specific to the Upper Cumberland Plateau will be covered during the day, including talks on wild hogs, restoration efforts at cultural landscapes, impacts from hemlock wooly adelgid on native hemlock trees, and other topics.

Tuesday, 06 February 2024 15:09

Celebrate Black Appalachian roots at spring fish fry

BIA NEW Black 2 web 1

WHITESBURG — Join Black in Appalachia supporters and friends for a fish fry, live music and fellowship at its field office in Whitesburg, Tenn. 

The homecoming is set for 1-8 p.m. April 20 at 8004 Andrew Johnson Highway.

The first Black in Appalachia Homecoming is meant to celebrate friends, families and coworkers near and far on the commemoration of setting roots in East Tennessee.

Black in Appalachia is a nonprofit that works with media, residents, universities, libraries, archives and community organizations to highlight the history and contributions of African-Americans to the development of the Mountain South and its culture.

Last modified on Saturday, 20 April 2024 00:57
Tuesday, 30 January 2024 13:37

Learn how to leverage the feds for community improvement

KNOXVILLE  Representatives from the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta’s Community and Economic Development Program, a Community Affairs Officer from the U.S. Treasury Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and members of the African American Equity Restoration Task Force will participate in a financial workshop.

The workshop is set for 11 a.m. Wednesday, January 31, at the Knoxville Public Works building at 3131 Morris Ave., and will last about two hours.

Topics are expected to include ways to potentially utilize the 1977 Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) for bank partnerships and other channels, improving homeownership, workforce equity, small business development, entrepreneurship and more.

Last modified on Wednesday, 31 January 2024 23:22

Seed_Swap.pngTennessee Local Food Summit participants were encouraged to bring their favorite heirloom seeds for a seed swap and social.  Courtesy Matt Matheson

Tennessee Local Food Summit is a hive for food justice in the Southeast

NASHVILLE — About 70 miles north of Nashville in the town of Red Boiling Springs in Macon County, farmer and educator Jeff Poppen, better known as the Barefoot Farmer, runs one of the oldest and largest organic farms in Tennessee. For nearly 40 years, he built rich soil for his bountiful farm before the second-largest meat producer in the world forced him to move from the 250 acres he’d been farming since 1974. 

When his neighboring property owner partnered with Cobb Vantress, a subsidiary of the multinational mega-giant Tyson Foods, to place a concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) — aka a factory farm — 450 feet from his homestead and garden, Poppen’s first instinct was to organize. 

This self-described “dirty hippie” found unlikely allies in his neighbors — a Baptist preacher, a state trooper, a politician, and what he calls a “chemical farmer” — all opposed to an industrial chicken house moving in.

Last modified on Saturday, 23 March 2024 21:19

Advance Knox plan gets policy committee approval; heads to other governing boards next

WATE: Knox County approves controversial Advance Knox plan in policy committee 

KNOXVILLE — A Knox County growth plan advanced by Mayor Glenn Jacob’s administration was approved by the guiding committee behind Advance Knox.

Hellbender Press has reported and opined on the growth plan during its development. The plan was touted as a means of reducing sprawl and accompanying taxpayer-funded infrastructure.

Rural and suburban property owners remain dubious whether the proposed revamp of the original Knox County growth plan will control the countywide development encroaching on their land, according to reporting from WATE:

“Kevin Murphy doubles as an advisory committee member and resident of a rural area. He lives off of Washington Pike and said the area has already started morphing into a suburb.

“‘Today, there’s over 17,000 cars a day that pass by my farm. All this growth will increase that a lot and 17,000 cars a day is a pretty significant amount of noise, litter, light pollution, at all times of the hours, so the character is definitely changing,’ he said.”

The plan still needs to be approved by Knox County Commission, city of Knoxville and the town of Farragut.

Thursday, 11 January 2024 14:39

RESCHEDULED: ETSPJ to host annual meeting with Knoxville members of the Tennessee state legislature

KNOXVILLE The East Tennessee chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists (ETSPJ) once again will partner with the League of Women Voters Knoxville/Knox County (LWVKKC) to hold the annual legislative forum of the Knox County delegation.

The forum, which was postponed by snow, is now set for 9-10:30 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 17. 

The event is set for the YWCA Phyllis Wheatley Center, located at 124 S. Cruze St., in East Knoxville near downtown. A parking lot next to the building and street parking are available.

Jesse Mayshark, an ETSPJ board member and co-founder of Compass Knox, will serve as moderator. The event is open to the public.

Last modified on Saturday, 17 February 2024 21:22

cranes sandhill 5During winter migration, visitors to Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge can view thousands of greater sandhill cranes.  Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency via Appalachian Voices

Sandhill Crane Festival at Hiwassee Refuge set for Jan. 12-14 in celebration of the crane’s revival and survival

BIRCHWOOD — As many as 12,000 cranes have overwintered at the confluence of the Tennessee and Hiwassee rivers. Whether you’re an avid birder or you’ve never seen a Sandhill crane before, the Tennessee Sandhill Crane Festival represents an extraordinary opportunity to witness a truly unforgettable natural phenomenon.

Experience the migration of the Sandhill cranes and many other waterfowl, eagles, white pelicans and whooping cranes. The entire region buzzes with birds and birdwatchers alike.

The festival will be held from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Jan. 12 – 14. Free buses run the short distance from the Birchwood Community Center to the Hiwassee Refuge and Cherokee Removal Memorial. Volunteers are set up at each location for birders and curious visitors alike.

Last modified on Tuesday, 16 January 2024 01:16
Wednesday, 03 January 2024 20:06

RESCHEDULED: Mudchasers wanted: Sign up to track pollution and sediment pumps

Chris Irwin

KNOXVILLE — Join Chris Irwin and others to learn how to help track the origin of sediments and other pollutants in area waterways.

The meeting was postponed by snow and is now set for 7 p.m. Jan. 24 at Barleys, 200 East Jackson Ave., Knoxville.

“Spring is coming and with it rain and mud into the creeks and streams around Knoxville. We think a handful of people working together can stop a lot of mud going into the Tennessee River.

“This meeting is to show maps, a free app for gps pics, and a process to follow mud to its source so we can rat out the developers and others being sloppy with the health of our streams. We have the technology.” 
Last modified on Friday, 26 January 2024 00:11

Arctic 3Polar bears on Wrangel Island, Russia. As the sea ice melts each summer, more than 1,000 bears come to Wrangel to wait for the return of the sea ice. It's the largest concentration of polar bears on Earth. BBC Studios via Tennessee Aquarium

Learn how the Arctic still thrives in the face of existential climate threats in new IMAX film

Doug Strickland is a writer for the Tennessee Aquarium.

CHATTANOOGA — At first glance, the Arctic seems an impossibly inhospitable place, a frigid wasteland of extremes in which nothing can survive.

Only one-quarter of this vast polar region at the top of the world is made up of land. The rest is comprised of a glacially cold ocean capped by vast stretches of ice. 

Despite its harsh conditions, life has found a way to endure — and even thrive — in the Arctic. Audiences will meet just a few of the Arctic’s charismatic residents on Jan. 11, 2024 when the Tennessee Aquarium IMAX 3D Theater debuts a new giant-screen film, Arctic 3D: Our Frozen Planet

Last modified on Friday, 12 January 2024 00:39
Tuesday, 02 January 2024 18:51

Fish are featured this month at Conservation on Tap

347098237 250038400911555 736972369222822085 nBarrens topminnow (Fundulus julisia) at Conservation Fisheries, a native stream fish breeding center. This species is endangered (IUCN). It is only found in the Barrens Plateau in Middle Tennessee, making it one of the rarest fish in eastern North America. © Joel Sartore 2023

KNOXVILLE — The next round of Conservation on Tap features Conservation Fisheries and its efforts to restore and conserve some of the most diverse fish populations on the planet.

It’s set for 7 p.m. Jan. 10 at Albright Grove Brewing Company, 2924 Sutherland Ave. Proceeds from the event benefit Discover Life in America, a crucial science partner with Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

“Did you know the incredibly diverse Tennessee River harbors over 225 species of fish, including more than 50 species at risk of extinction? Come join staff from Knoxville nonprofit Conservation Fisheries Inc. to learn about CFI's mission to prevent the extinction of rare fish species, and to work for their long-term recovery. We will be discussing some of our successes in fish recovery efforts over the past 37 years, including species found in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.”


Last modified on Thursday, 11 January 2024 09:10

Big South Fork NRRA celebrates 50th anniversary


New Year’s Day 2024: Mail Run bike ride

ONEIDABig South Fork National River & Recreation Area will commemorate its first 50 years with a year-long celebration in 2024. The park will recognize those who have played a pivotal role in making this special place what it is today.

Big South Fork prepares a year of honoring the past, celebrating today and planning for the future. “The story of Big South Fork is not finished. We are excited to engage with the community as we look forward to the next 50 years,” said Superintendent Niki Stephanie Nicholas.

As the new year approaches, there is a lot in store, from the installation of dozens of brand-new interpretive waysides and information boards — found at trailheads, parking lots and other points of interest throughout the park — to a completely overhauled official park map and guide, special events, ranger-led programs and incredible social media content, just to name a few.

Big South Fork’s 50th anniversary activities start with a celebration at Bandy Creek Visitor Center on Monday, Jan. 1, at 10 a.m., where mountain bikers are invited to ride the annual “Mail Run” event.

This ride is traditionally called the Mail Run because it occurs every year, no matter the weather. Just remember to BYOB (Bring Your Own Bike). The Mail Run consists of a choice of rides from 8-35 miles so bikers can pick the group ride of a length they are most comfortable with. Hot chocolate and coffee will be available at Bandy Creek Visitor Center before the rides start.

It was supposed to be the second meeting of the Growth Policy Coordinating Committee

The meeting was not conducted according to its announcement — as the official meeting of the Knox County Growth Policy Coordinating Committee for the second reading of the plan — but downgraded to a public comment session!
A repeat of the same mistake made with the October meeting, which also was not publicly announced in a newspaper with the minimum 15 days due notice required by state law! Thus, that meeting was held as a “forum for public comments” only.

Knoxville — The Knox County Growth Policy Coordinating Committee (GPCC) will meet on Tuesday, December 19, 2023, at 5:00 p.m. in the Main Assembly Room of the City County Building, 400 Main Street.

The purpose of this meeting is to discuss the proposed amendment to the Growth Policy Plan and hear from members of the public.

Note: Anyone who wishes to sign up to speak, can do so by calling 865-215-2005 by Tuesday, December 19 at 12:00 p.m.

Advance Knox was promoted as a public-participation effort to come up with a 20-year plan for growth in Knox County

Hellbender Press reported regularly on Advance Knox progress. In the end, there remained little public enthusiasm for the plan that resulted after two years.

At the “public information” meeting on Oct. 24 and at the first official GPCC meeting Nov. 27, the vast majority of attending citizens were upset by the Knox County Proposed Future Land Use Map. It showed that 17.5 square miles of land would be moved from ‘Rural’ to ‘Planned Growth.’ It appeared that little, if any consideration has been given to best agricultural soils.

Last modified on Saturday, 23 March 2024 21:42

Just released: 5-minute Sierra Club video on Kingston coal ash cleanup. Narrated by Jamie Satterfield.

Workers with engineering firm responsible for cleanup lacked protective gear for handling toxic agents

This story was originally published by Tennessee Lookout.

KINGSTON The Roane County Commission this month honored the memory and labor of the workers who cleaned up the Tennessee Valley Authority’s 2008 Kingston coal ash spill by funding a historical marker and approving a proclamation that Dec. 22 will be a day to honor the workers. 

This December marks 15 years since the spill. In the early hours of Dec. 22, 2008 at TVA’s Kingston Fossil Plant, 5.4 million cubic yards of coal ash was released, spilling into the Swan Pond Embayment and the Emory River Channel, covering about 300 acres, according to the Environmental Protection Agency

Coal ash is the concentrated waste left after burning coal. This waste can come in different sized particles from coarse bottom ash with the consistency of sand and gravel to fine dust like particles that compose fly ash. The smaller the particle the more easily these particles can be inhaled or ingested. This waste can contain heavy metals such as mercury, arsenic and cadmium and potentially elements that emit radiation. 

Exposure to these elements can potentially cause various health impacts, including cancers

Last modified on Wednesday, 07 February 2024 22:53

Half-minute video with olympian and fitness expert Missy Kane.

2023 Mountain Commerce Challenge is almost finished

KnoxvilleLegacy Parks Foundation will wrap up another great year of the Mountain Commerce Challenge on Saturday, December 9 with the 17th Tour de Lights bike ride and celebration. The free and family-friendly holiday bike ride is presented by Visit Knoxville and Bike Walk Knoxville. Riders will meet 4 p.m. at the Outdoor Knoxville Adventure Center to decorate their bikes before heading to Mary Costa Plaza for the festivities.

Meanwhile, spectators and costume contestants will already enjoy themselves at a more leisurely pace at Holiday Market & Expo, which opens 3:30 p.m. on Mary Costa Plaza by the Knoxville Civic Coliseum.

The glamorous 5-mile pedal parade will circle through East Knoxville neighborhoods to culminate coming down Gay Street.

Illuminated bicycles at nightCourtesy of Bike Walk Knoxville

Those who bring their ‘Challenge Checklist’ showing 75 miles completed will receive a special patch to commemorate all of the great hiking, biking and paddling accomplished this year!

Everyone who registers for the Tour de Lights or the Costume Contest will receive a commemorative T-shirt and be entered for some exciting ‘door prizes.’

Mountain Commerce Challenge 

The Mountain Commerce Challenge is named for Mountain Commerce Bank (MCB), which sponsored this challenge for its third year with a $15,000 donation to the Legacy Parks Foundation. The locally-owned community bank was founded 1910 in Erwin, where it acquired the former Erwin National Bank. MCB is 5-star rated by Bauer Financial and nationally ranks among the top 50 community banks.

Community banks are a cornerstone of community economic resilience because they invest customer deposits in the regional economy. That is particularly important for businesses that depend on regional natural resources and a local workforce with extensive experience and a deep understanding of local conditions.

Last modified on Friday, 12 January 2024 00:38

U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer GranholmThe Tennessee Valley Authority’s Bob Deacy shows U.S. Department of Energy secretary Jennifer Granholm the site of a future nuclear reactor in Oak Ridge.  Ben Pounds/Tennessee Lookout

DOE chief: Little nuke plants posited to provide clean energy 

This story was originally published by Tennessee Lookout.

OAK RIDGE — U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm visited the site of a possible first-of-its-kind nuclear reactor for the Tennessee Valley Authority this week. 

The utility’s board authorized $200 million to explore building a reactor on the site last year after the Nuclear Regulatory Commission gave TVA an early site permit in 2019. 

This first-of-its-kind small modular reactor would be smaller than standard nuclear reactors and generate less power, but it could have other advantages. While typical nuclear power plants need to provide power at 100 percent of their capacity constantly, a small modular reactor can more easily increase or decrease the amount of power it provides to the overall grid. Melinda Hunter, TVA nuclear communication specialist explained that this flexibility can complement renewable plants elsewhere in the TVA grid.

“When the sun’s not shining, you can bring the power up,” she said, adding that during sunnier periods the small modular reactors can provide less power.

TVA CEO Jeff Lyash said the utility will likely start building its first reactor on the site in 2027 and finish by the early 2030s. TVA is looking to build four of these reactors on the site, but it’s not made a final decision on the first one yet. Each reactor would generate 300 megawatts. 

Last modified on Friday, 08 December 2023 15:21
Thursday, 07 December 2023 12:15

On tap: Learn how the local Sierra Club is fighting climate change

Harvey BroomeHarvey Broome hiding in a buckeye tree on the way to Hughes Ridge, July 25, 1931.  Albert “Dutch” Roth

KNOXVILLE — The latest round of Conversation on Tap features members of the local Harvey Broome group of the Sierra Club discussing its efforts to address climate change.

It’s set for 7 p.m. Dec. 13 at Albright Brewing Company, 2924 Sutherland Ave. Proceeds from the event will benefit Discover Life in America, a crucial science partner with Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Join Harvey Broome group vice-chairman Jerry Thornton and others to learn more about the local chapter of the Sierra Club and its efforts to address climate change.

Named after a Smokies advocate and Wilderness Society founder, the Harvey Broome chapter of the Sierra Club has been fighting to preserve wild places; create clean, safe communities; and encourage recycling and clean energy since 1972. 

Photograph from the Albert “Dutch” Ross Photograph Collection at the University of Tennessee Libraries

Albert Gordon "Dutch" Roth, born September 20, 1890 in Knoxville, Tennessee, is recognized as one of the most prolific early photographers of the Great Smoky Mountains' Greenbrier and Mount Le Conte sections. An early member of the Smoky Mountains Hiking Club, his photographs document club hikes and activities, including the construction of the clubhouse at Greenbrier.

What began in 1913 as a diversion soon developed into a serious avocation as Roth perfected his penchant for photography while avidly hiking the unexplored regions near his home. He worked primarily with a Kodak Autographic 122 camera, and, often carrying a heavy tripod, would climb twenty to thirty feet up a tree or venture hundreds of yards off the trail to capture the landscape images for which he was later noted.

Last modified on Wednesday, 20 December 2023 00:49

Cades Cove Loop Lope finish line 2023Debi Nixon of Belton, Missouri crosses the finish line at the Cades Cove Loop Lope.

750 people from 27 states participated in the 7th Annual Cades Cove Loop Lope

On Sunday morning, Nov. 12, Friends of the Smokies hosted approximately 700 runners and walkers for the 7th Annual Cades Cove Loop Lope to support Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Through registration and sponsorships, the experience generated more than $110,000 to support a wide range of park programs including historic preservation, wildlife protection, search and rescue efforts, and Parks as Classrooms education programs.

“Experiencing Cades Cove on foot is an incredible opportunity to unplug and enjoy the splendor of the mountains, while also raising critically needed funds to support their care,” said Friends of the Smokies President Dana Soehn.

Last modified on Saturday, 18 November 2023 23:08

Knox County, TN proposed future land use map

KNOXVILLE — Members of the Knox County Growth Policy Coordinating Committee will hold their second (but first official) public meeting on Monday, Nov. 27 to hear from the public and consider amendments to the Growth Policy Plan that dates back to 2000. The meeting will take place at 5 p.m. in the Main Assembly Room of the City County Building. (This meeting was previously scheduled for Nov. 16.)

The committee’s first of two meetings required by Tennessee State Law to change a growth policy plan had initially been announced for Oct. 24. However, when it became known that the announcement had not been published with due notice in a local newspaper to met the letter of the law, the Oct. 24 gathering was relabeled as a public information meeting only, and its agenda limited to merely provide an introductory presentation about the Advance Knox process and its proposals, with an opportunity for brief citizen statements.

Last modified on Saturday, 23 March 2024 21:38
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