NASHVILLE, Tenn. (April 18, 2015) – Touting environmental stewardship, members of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District educated the public today about clean power, sustainability, restoration, water quality and water management at the Nashville Earth Day Festival in Centennial Park.
Russ Rote, Nashville District Project Planning Branch chief, said it’s well known that the Corps of Engineers is heavily involved with flood risk management, navigation, and things like that, but people don’t realize how much the Corps is involved in ecosystem restoration. Participating in this Earth Day event allows the Corps to share the organization’s environmental stewardship commitment with the public, he added.
“Environmental stewardship is huge for the Nashville District,” Rote said. “The Nashville District touches parts of seven states and we manage 412,000 acres of land. The Corps also helps provide water resource solutions and engineering support for other federal, state and local governments.”
The Nashville District manages water resources, which includes environmental stewardship, ecosystem restoration, flood risk management, navigation, emergency response, floodplain management, hydropower, recreation, regulation and water supply, but also provides assistance and partners with stakeholders through cost-share programs to address water resource issues.
“We typically are approached by a county or city government and interpret their problems and try to fit some Corps authority to solve their problems,” Rote said.
Nashville District’s Earth Day booth attracted a constant stream of people interested in learning more about the district’s environmental stewardship of the Cumberland and Tennessee River systems.
“Our display included national, regional and district initiatives as well as information on our authorities and processes to conduct ecosystem restoration projects,” said Nashville District Biologist Mary Lewis.
The Nashville District’s geographic area covers 59,000 square miles and its employees operate and maintain 10 dams, nine hydropower plants, nine locks on the Tennessee River, four locks on the Cumberland River and one lock on the Clinch River. More than 36 million people visited the district’s 10 lakes last year, with an economic impact on the region of nearly $877 million. Five of the lakes rank among the top 25 in Corps-wide visitation.
Old Hickory Lake Park Ranger Amy Redmond, a natural resources specialist, said given the large numbers of people who visit Corps lakes it’s important to inform families about the Corps’ missions and roles in taking care of the environment, and how the public can help protect and preserve the environment.
“Public land is everybody’s land, and we want to make sure that everyone knows how to take care of it and the importance of taking care of it,” Redmond said. “We want to be able to maintain this habitat for generations to come, so by picking up trash in your recreation area as you are there for picnicking or camping or boating or fishing, just make sure you take that out because that trash can actually end up in those habitats.”
Redmond added that park rangers at the lakes support environmental stewardship projects and often highlight them with the public at events like Earth Day, Arbor Day and National Public Lands Day.
Nashville Earth Day Festival’s highlights included live music, food and entertainment, environmental exhibits and activities, produce at a green farmer’s market, recycling opportunities, and special activities for children. At the Nashville District’s booth, park rangers and Corps representatives also provided recreation information and emphasized the importance of water safety with all of the kids that stopped by for Bobber the Water Safety Dog pamphlets, water safety tattoos, coloring papers, and other goodies.
During the 2014 recreation season there were 18 fatalities at Nashville District’s 10 lakes, which underscores why the Corps also emphasized water and boating safety at the Earth Day festival.
“I was looking for information about swimming safety,” said Cynthia Reed, a Nashville resident. “I have three grandbabies and the first thing they want to do is jump in water at the lake. So it was really informative to get the color pages to explain to them why they can’t and why they need to wear life jackets.”
Reed said her husband fishes at Old Hickory Lake and the family goes swimming. Trash on the shoreline is another thing that is important to her because a clean environment is healthy when her little ones play in the water.
“When you see water bottles lying around and all of that, we all have to be good stewards of our planet and of our areas and communities,” Reed said.
Other Corps employees who shared their expertise at the district’s Earth Day exhibit include Kim Franklin, Craig Carrington, Fred Ragan, David Bishop and Park Ranger Courtney Eason.
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