February 11, 2021 Tennessee RiverLine Awarded for Conservation Efforts

paddle boards at the river


The Tennessee RiverLine was awarded a 2020 Ripple Effect Award for the initiative’s conservation efforts for the Tennessee River.

boat with bags of trash

The award is given by Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful, a nonprofit organization affiliated with Keep America Beautiful that is devoted to the health of the Tennessee River. The award recognizes individuals, groups, companies and organizations for their work to improve and protect the health of the river, its biodiversity and those who use the shared resource.

The Tennessee RiverLine is a vision for a continuous system of paddling, hiking and biking trails along the Tennessee River’s 652-mile reach from Knoxville, TN, to Paducah, KY. Conservation and environmental stewardship are key imperatives of the Tennessee RiverLine and benefit not only the river but also 2.4 million residents in river communities.

The Ripple Effect Award notes stewardship work in Tennessee in 2020, including two clean-up events resulting in the removal of almost one ton of trash from the Tennessee River. In addition, the award recognized the ongoing efforts of the Tennessee RiverLine to help river community leadership teams across the region plan stewardship events, creating a “ripple effect” for other communities to get involved.

“The Tennessee RiverLine seeks to inspire new generations of active river stewards who are invested in the health, beauty and future of the diverse natural resources and storied river that we share,” says Brad Collett, director of the Tennessee RiverLine Partnership and associate professor of Landscape Architecture at the University of Tennessee.

group of people at riverside

“The Tennessee River is a precious resource that impacts everyone living within its watershed and beyond,” said Kathleen Gibi, executive director for Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful, in the organization’s release. “We’re proud to recognize this year’s recipients, who have demonstrated good stewardship of our waterways even through a pandemic.”

Since 2016, the Tennessee RiverLine has involved more than 60 UT students in trail system planning as well as amenity design and programming for river communities. Students and others also conducted research with a pilot group of five river communities that in turn formed project leadership teams, offered new river experiences and amenities and applied for state and federal funding. The Tennessee RiverLine recently welcomed 15 communities, representing 35 cities and counties and 836,000 citizens, as members of the inaugural Tennessee RiverTowns Program cohort. In 2020 the initiative earned national, regional and state awards and released its first comprehensive research findings and recommendations for all river communities.

In addition, a Ripple Effect Award went to David Bowling, a Tennessee RiverLine advocate, conservation organizer and avid paddler in Roane County, one of the Tennessee RiverLine’s Pilot Communities and a Tennessee RiverTowns Program community.

Read the full story of the 2020 Ripple Effect Awards, and see the full list of award winners.

Called North America’s next great regional trail system, the Tennessee RiverLine originated in 2016 in the School of Landscape Architecture at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, College of Architecture and Design and Herbert College of Agriculture. Today, the Tennessee RiverLine is a partnership of principal partners, the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and Tennessee Valley Authority, in collaboration with the  Tennessee RiverLine Partnership, a diverse group that includes UT; TVA; the National Park Service’s Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program; and several other organizations and agencies.

To learn more about the Tennessee RiverLine, follow on FacebookTwitter and Instagram (@tnriverline) and visit frequently.

Graphic image of TN River watershed with stats