Community Partner Spotlight: Cumberland River Compact

Community Partner Spotlight: Cumberland River Compact

Here at Team Green, we love working with local non-profits and other community partners to create high-quality and engaging events that range from free workshops to volunteer opportunities. This week, we sat down with Carolyn Wright, program and event director of Cumberland River Compact, who we partner with on the yearly Cumberland River Dragon Boat Festival. Check out what she had to say about Nashville’s most beloved source of water, and how we can get involved as a city:

“The Compact started in 1997 when environmental advocacy work became the new trendy thing, and a man named Vic Scoggin came along. Legend has it that one of our current board members used to be a private detective,” said Wright. “One day, he was out filming someone polluting the river, and then this crazy guy swam by. He tracked him down, and the man was Vic Scoggin. To help raise environmental awareness for it, he swam the whole length of the Cumberland River. That’s nearly 600 miles.”

Very soon afterwards, Scoggin ended up assembling an environmentally-conscious group of Nashvillians, and thus began Cumberland River Compact.

While the primary mission of Cumberland River Compact is to “enhance the health and enjoyment of the Cumberland River and its tributaries through education, collaboration, and action”, this is by no means a boring feat. Every year The Compact hosts the annual Dragon Boat Festival, which entails teams of organizations, corporations, and individual groups paddling across downtown Nashville’s riverfront in colorful Dragon Boat fashion.

“Team Green has a boat in the race every single year now,” said Wright. “They’re The Team Green Giants and it’s always so great to see them show up all hyped up and dressed as a team with their Green Giant drummer-mascot.”

This event is Cumberland River Compact’s largest fundraiser, and a huge opportunity to get people out on the water. This will be The Compact’s 9th year holding the race, and there are annually over 1,000 paddlers, 50 race teams, and 8 Dragon Boats. Each Dragon Boat holds 20 people, and has a drummer of its own to lead its team forwards with a solid paddling cadence.

Everyone is welcome to come, dress up, bring their kids for a bunch of activities, and be merry. This year’s Dragon Boat race will be on Saturday, September 12th at the East Bank Landing.

Dragon Boat 6
We love putting a team together for the Dragon Boat race every year!

To help work towards their ultimate declared mission, Cumberland River Compact breaks their work down into three categories: teaching, protecting, and connecting.

The Compact is all about protecting the Cumberland River through advocacy, and that begins with education. This is especially true as the city of Nashville gains approximately 82 new Nashvillians every day, according to The Ashton Real Estate Group of RE/MAX Elite. With such growth, it is imperative that we proceed accordingly, and teach our younger generations to do so as well.

“It really affects our work here because with that many people coming, we have to have a louder voice,” said Wright. “It’s great for Nashville when we create new infrastructure, but we have to remember and actively live like it. The more people that come, the more that our resources will be stressed.”

A prime event to promote their theme of education is the annual Catfish Rodeo. This is a yearly free festival for kids and families to learn to fish, see some booths, and have some fun with over 1,700 lbs of catfish at Sevier Lake in Shelby Park.

Right next to educating the people who make use of the river, Cumberland River Compact’s most common form of advocacy is the physical protection and up-keeping of the river, its streams, and the surrounding land.

“Team Green adopted a stream!” smiled Wright. “Groups can go online on our website and, through us, can adopt streams. Then, these groups will have their own quarter-mile segments that they can have to clean up and take care of.” Team Green’s adopted section includes a one-mile stretch of Mill Creek near Ezell Road Park and the Mill Creek Greenway, and we’ve done 5 cleanups to date on that section.

Mill Creek 1
After 5 cleanups on our adopted section of Mill Creek, we’ve pulled more than 100 bags of trash and other debris from the waterway!

Stream adoptions, tree planting, and rain gardening are just a few of the ways that both groups and individuals can get involved and do some of the grunt work that keeps our beloved river clean and healthy.

“After all, we use and drink the water that comes from the Cumberland. Might as well take care of what we have to put in our bodies,” said Wright.

The last, and certainly not least, principle of The Compact is to connect with people while helping others to connect.

Over the years, countless organizations, businesses, and people walking down the street have been able to form partnerships, friendships, traditions, and an overall stronger community for Nashville as a city through the work of Cumberland River Compact.

“To anyone who’s looking to be outside more, or help the community, or do something with their weekend, I definitely say check out our website because everything you could want to know about volunteering will be there,” said Wright. “We have a new recreation map on our website in the resources area. If you’re looking for anything to do around Nashville, check it out!”

Cumberland River Compact’s website is http://cumberlandrivercompact.org/ . You can also get involved by helping out at Team Green’s next stream cleanup, coming up on October 4th!

– Aziza Cunningham (Lightning 100 Summer Intern)

Clean Water for All!

Clean Water for All!

If you’ve ever spent any time in Nashville during the summer months, then you know that our local waterways are a vital piece of the outdoor recreation puzzle here in Middle Tennessee. From canoeing or kayaking on the Harpeth, Piney, Caney Fork, or Buffalo Rivers, to paddleboarding and boating on Percy Priest Lake, to fishing in or hiking along one of our many local creeks, there’s no shortage of ways to enjoy the abundant bodies of water in and around Nashville. Even the Cumberland River is experiencing a resurgence in recreational opportunities of late, with projects currently underway to expand non-motorized boat access near LP Field and Downtown.

Despite the excitement that many Nashvillians feel as summer approaches, bringing with it the promise of long warm days on the water, little time is often spent thinking about the work that must be done to keep our waterways clean and healthy for all to enjoy. As an organization that loves to get people on the water as much as possible, we know that recreational use of local streams, rivers and lakes is a privilege not to be taken lightly, and that we need to do our part to make sure that we can continue to have access to waterways that are clean, safe, and beautiful long after we’ve paddled them. For that reason, we work year-round with several local partners to clean, protect, and maintain our cherished blueways. Here’s a little more on some of the great groups we join forces with and how YOU can get involved with the work we’re doing:

Cumberland River Compact

The Cumberland River Compact is the leading organization promoting increased water quality and health in Middle Tennessee, as they care for the entire Cumberland River Watershed, including the river itself and its many tributaries. Their work ranges from hands-on volunteer efforts like tree and rain garden plantings, stream cleanups, and dam removals, to educational initiatives like their River Talks series, which is aimed at informing the public about all aspects of the health of the Cumberland River Basin. They have made great strides in improving the long-term wellbeing of the watershed, and they continue to promote increased community engagement to further this goal through their active management of the Nashville Adopt-A-Stream Program and other ongoing programs. We adopted our very own one-mile section of Mill Creek through this program in the summer of 2013, and have continued to maintain that area through multiple cleanups every year. The Compact even hosts fun events like the annual Dragon Boat Festival on the Cumberland River to help raise awareness about water quality issues and fund their work, providing Nashvillians with a fantastic opportunity to have a great time while supporting the health of our local waterways. We have our own Dragon Boat team every year, and would love for you to join it!

Dragon Boat
The Cumberland River Compact’s Dragon Boat Festival is one of our favorite annual events, and is probably the most fun way to support healthy waterways in Middle Tennessee!

Bridgestone Americas’ Tires4ward Program

Since it’s inception in 2012, Bridgestone Americas’ Tires4ward Program has aided more than 350 community cleanup events and recycled nearly 100,000 tires from streams and rivers across the United States. Part of Bridgestone’s larger efforts towards sustainability (called their One Team, One Planet initiative), the Tires4ward program seeks to promote a waste-free tire industry by repurposing or recycling one used tire for every new tire they produce. Bridgestone partners with local organizations in communities across the country to collect spent tires for free from cleanup events, making their tire collection services open to any and all who need them. We have directly partnered with this program for the last two summers, pulling more than 100 tires out of the Harpeth, Buffalo and Caney Fork Rivers during our annual summer canoe floats. Keep your eyes on our calendar for summer cleanup opportunities to be posted soon!

harpeth cleanup
We pulled more than two dozen tires out of the Harpeth River during our first canoe float last summer!

Hands On Nashville’s Waterway Cleanup & Restoration Program

In the immediate aftermath of the May 2010 flood, a huge community-wide effort was made towards restoring and cleaning up homes and businesses that had been damaged by record-high water levels, but little attention was paid to the damage done to some of our more minor local streams and tributaries. Seeing a need for a concerted recovery effort, Hands On Nashville created the Waterway Cleanup & Restoration Program to help clean up the debris that was left in Nashville’s waterways long after the flood waters had receded. Over the last four and a half years, local volunteers have participated in hundreds of cleanups around Davidson County, removing some 285 tons of debris from our waterways big and small, helping to restore these vital ecosystems to pre-flood conditions or better. This program has been so successful that the cleanup phase of the project is now complete, allowing Hands On Nashville to concentrate their efforts on promoting the long-term health and resilience of our streams through efforts to plant more trees to strengthen riparian buffers (a vegetated area that lines waterways, protecting it from the impact of nearby land uses) around the city. These plantings have continued to take place into this spring, providing a great opportunity for you to get involved! Other local organizations, such as the Harpeth River Watershed Association, also host regular tree plantings in riparian zones, so be sure to check out ways to lend a hand and do your part with either of these great programs!

mill creek cleanup
Volunteers helped clear this small mountain of trash from Mill Creek in just 3 hours during our Waterway Restoration Project with Hands On Nashville in June of 2013.

So this summer, when you’re out paddling a local river and enjoying a cold brew, take some time to thank the dedicated volunteers who help maintain our waterways and keep them pristine. If you can, pick up any litter you see along the way, and maybe future paddlers will take some time to thank you too!

– Matt (Team Green’s Events Coordinator)