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)

Do-It-Yourself Flood Prevention

Do-It-Yourself Flood Prevention

With all the snow and ice we had last week across the southeast, it seemed like everyone was talking again about the possibility of flooding here in Middle Tennessee. Anyone who has lived here five years or longer certainly has vivid memories of the May 2010 flood, which saw much of Nashville and the surrounding area under several feet of water. While the threat of something similar happening again anytime soon is pretty low (the 2010 flood was a 1000-year flood, meaning water levels that high are only likely to be seen once every thousand years, or that it has a 0.1% chance of happening in any given year), even the threat of high water prompts a worried reaction from most Nashvillians. Just this week, the Mayor’s Office released its long-term plan for protecting downtown from flooding, with the installation of additional flood walls and a pumping station set to happen in coming years. With all that in mind, here are a few things you can do at home to help ease flooding issues, no matter where you live!

1. Plant Trees

In the event of heavy rain, the banks of local creeks and rivers are often the most vulnerable places to flood damage, as they are the first places to bear the brunt of high water levels. Planting trees with strong root systems along waterways helps to prevent erosion and keep rivers and streams from widening during heavy rains. Though erosion is usually gradual, banks can erode very quickly in the event of severe flooding, causing significant damage to nearby property and creating a major threat for adjacent homes and businesses. Even if you don’t live near a waterway, planting a few trees still helps to mitigate flooding risks, as a thick tree canopy works to absorb rainfall and slow the flow of rain water into rivers and streams. Basically, you can’t go wrong planting a tree, so get out there and do it!

River Swale bank erosion
Planting trees can help prevent erosion like this along river banks. (via soil-net.com)

2. Install Rain Barrels

You may not know it, but Nashville is actually one of the rainiest cities in the United States, seeing more than 47 inches of rainfall in an average year, good for 10th on the list. If you’ve got a rain barrel (or two, or three, or…), then you don’t have to let all this perfectly good water go to waste! An inch of rainfall on 1000 square feet of rooftop produces roughly 600 gallons of water, and if you have a way to collect some of this water, you can use it around the house as you need it. Rain barrels most commonly come in 55-gallon sizes and can be placed below any gutter to collect runoff from your home. They’re pretty easy to install, and once you’ve got one set up, all you need to do is attach a garden hose to your barrel at any time to utilize the water you’ve collected to water your plants, wash your car, and more. Barrels can often be found on Craigslist, and can also be bought from our friends at the Cumberland River Compact, allowing you to support a good cause while you save some money on your water bill as well! If you’re the creative type, you can get crafty with your rain barrel and decorate it to make it double as nice piece of art for your yard. With spring rains just around the corner, there’s no better time to invest in a rain barrel!

GE DIGITAL CAMERA
A decorated rain barrel featuring some flamingos! Note the spout at the bottom left where you can attach a garden hose. (via galleryhip.com)

3. Create a Rain Garden

If you’ve got a real green thumb, then planting your own rain garden is a great way to prevent excess water runoff while also beautifying your yard. According to the Rain Garden Network, a rain garden is a “shallow depression that is planted with deep-rooted native plants and grasses.” These gardens can vary in size, shape and plant life, but should be placed near runoff sources like downspouts or large paved areas to have the greatest overall impact. Because rain gardens are sunk into the ground, they act as natural collection places for water during heavy rains, preventing that water from flowing into storm drains and local waterways, which can occasionally be overwhelmed during especially large downpours. By limiting the amount of runoff flowing down roadways and into storm drains, rain gardens also keep rain water cleaner, as this runoff often comes into contact with gasoline, oil, and other contaminants as it flows over paved surfaces. These gardens can be great landscaping features for your yard and are great educational tools as well!

How-Rain-Garden-works4
(via watershedcouncil.org)

Lucky for you, we’ve got a handful of opportunities coming up for you to learn more about rainwater and to do your part to protect Nashville from future flood damage! On Wednesday, March 4th, we’re partnering with Urban Green Lab and the Cumberland River Compact to host a rain barrel workshop, and we’ve also got local tree plantings coming up with both the Harpeth River Watershed Association (on March 14th) and Hands On Nashville (on March 21st). See y’all there!

– Matt (Team Green’s Event Coordinator)

‘Tis the Season for Giving Back

‘Tis the Season for Giving Back

Here at Team Green Adventures, we love being involved in the Nashville community as much as possible. From hiking local trails to canoeing nearby rivers, maintaining a close relationship with Middle Tennessee and the people and organizations that make it unique is vital to our identity as adventurers. Part of our duty, then, is to give a little back to the place we call home by lending a hand to help keep it a little greener, a little cleaner, and a little healthier.

We partner with great local organizations year-round to get out and volunteer, and we thought right now would be a great time to reflect on all we’ve done so far, and to thank all our volunteers for helping make change happen this year! Check it out:

This year, we partnered with Hands On Nashville, the Nashville Tree Foundation, and Belmont’s Massey School of Business to plant more than two dozen trees in local neighborhoods.

photo (3)

We teamed up with Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee to distribute more than 24,000 pounds of food to 112 families in need, sort nearly 11,000 pounds of food in their warehouse, and pack more than 2,500 backpacks for hungry schoolchildren. 

Second Harvest

Speaking of schoolchildren, we took part in Hands On Nashville Day again this year, helping to beautify Pearl-Cohn Entertainment Magnet High School by planting greenery and cleaning up the landscaping around one of Nashville’s most innovative public schools. 

pearl cohn

We partnered with Bridgestone Americas’ Tires4ward program, paddling more than 25 miles of local rivers to remove 55 tires and 50 bags of trash from our scenic waterways.

harpeth

We joined forces with the Cumberland River Compact and Hands On Nashville to clean up multiple sections of Mill Creek, including our very own mile-long adopted section adjacent to the Mill Creek Greenway. Over the course of 3 cleanups, we removed 62 bags of trash and tons of other large debris from the waterway.

creek cleanup

We worked with both Hands On Nashville and the Nashville Food Project in their community gardens, helping to provide access to healthy food for Nashvillians in need.

HON Garden

We helped out at multiple Habitat for Humanity builds, working towards providing eco-friendly and affordable housing options for low-income families in Middle Tennessee.

habitat

We even lent a hand to Ferrell Hollow Farm Senior Horse Sanctuary, helping them prepare for their annual fall fundraiser so that they can continue to care for horses that have been neglected, abused, or are suffering from disabilities.

ferrell

For a quick little summary of everything we’ve done, check out this cool infographic!

Team Green Volunteering 2014 (1)

Last but not least, we want to say a huge THANK YOU to all of our volunteers who helped make these projects possible over the last 12 months. It took 272 volunteers a grand total of 1074 man hours to accomplish everything listed above, and we couldn’t have done it without all of you! We’re so thankful to have such a dedicated group of people who help us make Nashville a better place, and we can’t wait to continue to lend a hand to our friends and neighbors in 2015!

Happy holidays!

– Matt (Team Green’s Event Coordinator)