The Environmental Journal of Southern Appalachia

ES! Initiatives (52)

EarthSolidarity!™ Initiatives are endeavors to which anyone can contribute in deed as well as in spirit, that

  • minimize waste and environmental impacts
  • increase community resilience
  • respect and protect ecosystem processes and all forms of life
  • contribute to good living conditions for everyone around the globe
  • affirm and celebrate our interdependence and interrelatedness in the Web of Life!



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

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

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

Sequoyah Hills Arboretum sign identifying the Eastern Red Cedar to which it is attached.Many such new identifying tags highlight trees such as this red cedar in the newly designated Sequoyah Hills Arboretum near Bearden in Knoxville.  Ben Pounds/Hellbender Press

The arboretum designation will  allow for more extensive tree walks, scout projects, school outings, and other educational programs on the value and beauty of native trees

KNOXVILLE — A small crowd of volunteers with tags and tools descended on Sequoyah Park on a February afternoon, preparing to affix identifying labels to the bark of old trees in one of the city’s most storied neighborhoods.

Sequoyah Park sits along the Tennessee River at 1400 Cherokee Boulevard, tucked behind the Sequoyah Hills neighborhood but open to all who want to run, walk, cycle, or enjoy its open fields and other features. It’s Tennessee Valley Authority land, maintained by the city. The many species of native trees that tower over the park’s long field got recognition this year. The park and other Sequoyah Hills neighborhood areas are now part of the Sequoyah Hills Arboretum, an accredited level one ArbNet arboretum.

Last modified on Saturday, 23 March 2024 21:17

DJI 0246Foothills Land Conservancy recently completed a conservation easement on 100 acres near Cane Creek in Anderson County, Tenn.  Shelby Lyn Sanders/ Foothills Land Conservancy

Generations have crisscrossed the expansive pastures near Cane Creek in Anderson County

Shelby Lyn Sanders is the senior biologist at Foothills Land Conservancy
CLINTON Not much of Mrs. Betty Smith, 92, is visible as she pokes among the tall grasses on her land in Anderson County, Tenn. on this warm mid-spring day.  
She’s looking for scraps of metal or wood or some relic that might reveal the exact location of a barn that stood here near Cane Creek some time ago.  
Mrs. Smith and her husband Paul purchased this property from the prominent Hollingsworth family in the 1960s while living nearby in Clinton. They had big dreams about owning a farm close by to work and play on.  
Last modified on Friday, 26 January 2024 00:21

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
Wednesday, 01 November 2023 19:19

Tennessee Tree Day


It’s that time of year again — time to reserve your trees for Tennessee Tree Day 2024. Reserve yours now and plan on picking them up on March 15th or 16th and planting them that weekend.  Here are some special things to know about this year’s statewide native-tree-planting extravaganza:

  • This is the 10th Annual Tennessee Tree Day
  • You have more than 12 native species to choose from
  • Plant at home, on the farm, or anywhere you have permission to plant
  • You have more than 150 pick-up sites to choose from
  • We anticipate planting our one millionth tree in 2024 — we want you to be part of this historic milestone. (We founded the Tree Program in 2007 with a goal of planting one million trees. You can help us cross the finish line!)
Last modified on Saturday, 16 March 2024 21:03

Join a community of Tennesseans carving out gardens to attract, feed and nurture pollinating wildlife

img-4888.jpgThese signs will show your friends and neighbors that your wildflower garden supports pollinators and hopefully get them excited about starting a pollinator garden too! Our original signs are made from embossed, recycled aluminum and measure 8 x 12 inches. They are available for a donation of $25 each and can be shipped directly to you.  Tennessee Environmental Council

Through Generate Some Buzz, the Tennessee Environmental Council aims to engage hundreds of Tennesseans in establishing new pollinator habitats statewide. All gardens, both big and small are welcome and by participating in this program, you are joining a vibrant community of Tennesseans committed to protecting our pollinators, one plot at a time.

Populations of many pollinator species like bees, butterflies, moths, beetles and hummingbirds have been negatively impacted by agricultural practices such as using synthetic pesticides, disease and habitat loss. These creatures are experiencing a drastically different world compared to just a few decades ago.

Native pollinators depend on native plants to provide habitat and food, and plants need pollinators to help them reproduce. In fact, pollinators assist in the reproduction of 75 percent of flowering plants worldwide. Turning manicured lawns that provide little to nothing for pollinators into havens full of native flowers and wild grasses, we will effectively "Generate Some Buzz" and bring back these essential workers full force.

Join SACE for a Clean Energy Generation webinar on Wed, Oct. 25 at 1:30 PM


The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy invites people to join the “Clean Energy Generation.”

We’re gaining momentum as a movement that is rising to one of the greatest challenges of our time: the climate crisis. We’re pushing for new policies and practices and taking action, no matter how small — because it takes small ripples from people at all levels of engagement to create a tsunami of change.

At the second Clean Energy Generation webinar, SACE staff, including Executive Director, Dr. Stephen A. Smith, Climate Advocacy Director Chris Carnevale, and Climate Advocacy Coordinator Cary Ritzler, will talk about what the “Clean Energy Generation” is and how you can play a role, no matter your age, abilities, income or zip code. 

SACE’s Executive Director will also share the ways he is taking clean energy action in his home, and how you don’t have to be an expert to connect with your community and make meaningful change: learning more is a good place to start. We’ll also show how small groups of neighbors, students and friends are coming together to accomplish specific climate-actions goals. And we’ll have time on the webinar to answer your questions.

Can’t make it? Register anyway and we’ll send you the recording plus a few follow-up resources.

The Clean Energy Generation is motivated by what our daily lives, communities, country, and planet will look like when clean energy replaces decades of dirty pollution from fossil fuels. We are working together for communities powered by clean energy with good jobs, clean air and water, clean transportation, a stable climate and affordable bills, where all of us can thrive.

TN_Aquarium_Lake_Sturgeon_Release_in_Coolidge_Park_5.jpgConservation scientists with the Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute pose in the Tennessee River before releasing more than 600 juvenile lake sturgeon into the waterway. Tennessee Aquarium

CHATTANOOGA — After bulking up all summer on a steady diet of bloodworms and brine shrimp, hundreds of juvenile lake sturgeon finally were returned to their ancestral waters this morning. 

Under a nearly cloudless autumn sky, biologists from the Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute and third through fifth grade students from Girls Inc. of Chattanooga’s Fall Break Camp gathered on the north bank of the Tennessee River in Coolidge Park. 

One by one, they carefully made their way to the river’s edge holding clear, water-filled plastic buckets containing five-month-old lake sturgeon. Amidst excited squeals and nervous laughter, they squatted down, gently depositing each sleek, armor-skinned fish into the shallows.

This latest release “class” included 667 lake sturgeon. Comparatively tiny now, these miniature river giants have the potential to reach nine feet in length and could live for up to 150 years. 

Reintroduction events like this are the capstone payoff to a summer spent tirelessly caring for and — most of all — feeding these sturgeon, says Reintroduction Biologist II Teresa Israel

“It’s really special. It’s hard to see them go, but it’s a happy day since we’ve seen them get so big, so we know they’ll be successful out there,” she said. “It’s a great accomplishment that completes the circle for all our hard work.” 

Lake Sturgeon are considered endangered in Tennessee. As recently as the 1970s, this species had disappeared from both waterways due to the impacts of damming, poor water quality and over-fishing. Today’s release is the latest in the now-23-year-old effort to bring Lake Sturgeon back to the Tennessee River and Cumberland River.

Last modified on Wednesday, 20 December 2023 10:20
Sunday, 22 October 2023 17:51

October 24 is United Nations Day

Written by

united nations day


Despite strong US popular support for the UN, House Appropriations Bill wants to eliminate UN funding

NEW YORK — In a poll of nearly two thousand registered voters, 73% of respondents from across the political spectrum support America’s engagement with the United Nations.

Conducted by Morning Consult in August 2023, the survey finds that roughly two-thirds of Republicans and 86% of Democrats believe it’s important for the U.S. to “maintain an active role” in the UN.

UN favorability stood at 52%, with a plurality of Republicans saying they view the UN in a positive light.

More than half of all voters support paying full dues to the UN’s regular budget, and an even greater percentage (nearly 60%) are in favor of paying dues to the UN’s peacekeeping budget.

These numbers reflect similar nationwide data — including a 2023 survey by Pew Research — noting strong UN favorability among Americans.

What’s at stake?

The House budget proposal recommends eliminating funding for the UN regular budget — for the first time in history. That would cause the U.S. to lose its vote in the UN General Assembly!

Why that would be a grave and costly mistake is well explained by Jordie Hannum, Executive Director of the Better World Campaign.

This UN Day, make sure to tell your members of Congress that you support the UN’s mission.

Here are easy to follow help and sample scripts for your call and for leaving voice mail. Or, send them a customizable email message.

“As Congress considers making drastic cuts in U.S. contributions to the UN, this is a powerful reminder that Americans value the institution and want the U.S. to stay involved,” said Peter Yeo, President of the Better World Campaign. “The UN is a critical space for the U.S. to demonstrate our global leadership and support our allies. Americans clearly understand that it’s in our best interest to nurture this vital relationship.”

Last modified on Friday, 12 January 2024 16:34

10443176025_00a582b883_o-1-scaled.jpgThe historic federal climate legislation known as the Inflation Reduction Act passed last summer. The $7 billion program will help fund rooftop solar projects benefiting communities with lower incomes and provide workforce development enabling millions of households’ access to affordable, resilient, and clean solar energy.  Southern Environmental Law Center

A competitive grant program to bring solar power to people with limited incomes has found huge demand in the South

CHARLOTTESVILLE — Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia, as well as other tribal governments, municipalities and nonprofits submitted applications for Solar for All, a new program designed to expand solar access.

“I’m thrilled to see enthusiasm for this funding in Southern states, which have traditionally lagged behind the rest of the country in residential solar while many households struggle to pay their electricity bills,” said Gudrun Thompson, leader of Southern Environmental Law Center’s Energy Program.

Part of the historic federal climate legislation, the Inflation Reduction Act passed last summer, the $7 billion program will fund rooftop solar projects benefiting communities with lower incomes and provide workforce development enabling millions of households’ access to affordable, resilient and clean solar energy and related jobs. These funds have the potential to double the number of rooftop solar customers with 100 percent of cost saving solar, benefiting customers that would not otherwise be able to access solar.  

“This is a generational opportunity to enable low-income households in the South to access affordable, resilient, and clean solar energy,” Thompson said.

Last modified on Wednesday, 20 December 2023 10:17

Join Keep Knoxville Beautiful on Friday, Nov. 3 for its annual Sustainability Summit


KKB Sustainability Summit 2023

Why do we have all this asphalt, how is it keeping us apart, what is it doing to the fabric of our cities, and what can we do about it?

From 2nd Avenue in Nashville to The Stitch in Atlanta to the Placemaking Hub in Charlotte, travel with us to different Southeastern cities with professionals who are reshaping their urban environments to create more equitable, sustainable and beautiful places, and get inspired about what we can do in our own city. Join us on Friday, November 3rd for KKB’s 5th annual Sustainability Summit for a day of learning.

Lunch will be provided for free to all attendees, sponsored by the Tomato Head

Other sponsors include TVA and Earthadelic.

Event Timeline

 9:00 AM - Doors open

 9:15 AM - Opening remarks by City of Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon

 9:45 AM - Jack Cebe, Landscape Architect/Engineer, Atlanta
11:00 AM - Eric Hoke, Urban Designer, Nashville & Kate Cavazza, Urban Designer, Charlotte
12:00 PM - Lunch provided by Tomato Head
12:45 PM - Beverly Bell, Landscape Designer, Chattanooga & Caleb Racicot, Urban Planner, Atlanta 
  1:45 PM - Closing remarks

download 2Monarch butterfly feeding off milkweed. TDOT launched a program to promote milkweed production, a common source of food for butterflies, birds and other insects. cc zero 2

Free milkweed seed will help citizens restore landscapes and preserve habitat; orders commence again in June for popular TDOT project

NASHVILLE — Amid unprecedented citizen demand, the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) halted online orders for free milkweed seed, offered as part of its Project Milkweed. Launched in June 2023, this mail-order resource was aimed at restoring landscapes and preserving habitats for monarch butterflies and other pollinator species. Since June, TDOT has taken nearly 131,000 individual orders from Tennesseans for milkweed seed. In total, 779,601 red and common milkweed seed packets were requested. The program will return in June 2024.

“TDOT is happy to offer such a popular program to the public, and to empower Tennesseans to do their part in saving pollinators as they are vital to life, growing food, and the economy of Tennessee,” said TDOT Commissioner Butch Eley in a release.

Orders exhausted a stock of 300,000 milkweed seed packets by Sept. 30. Additional seed material has been ordered and is expected to arrive in October. All remaining orders will be fulfilled then, according to TDOT. 

Last modified on Wednesday, 20 December 2023 10:09

community_biochar-reduced.pngCommunity biochar production in Boone.  Appalachian State Energy Center

Appalachian State University research helps farmers and crop yield

This article was provided by Appalachian State University. Hei-Young Kim is laboratory manager and research assistant with the Appalachian Energy Center.

BOONE The Appalachian State Nexus Project experiments continue to advance agricultural innovations with biochar to help local farmers. Biochar is a charcoal-like material produced from plant material such as grass, agricultural and forest residues that  produce carbon-rich material used for agriculture and horticulture purposes. 

Adding biochar to soil increases surface area, pH, plant nutrient availability, and enhances water-holding capacity, according to Appalachian State researchers. It also can sequester carbon in the ground for extended periods of time, which may otherwise find its way into the atmosphere as CO2 or methane.

The qualities of biochar vary depending upon the material it comes from — timber slash, corn stalks or manure. 

Last modified on Tuesday, 03 October 2023 01:13