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Volunteers remove 18 tons of trash from Cherokee Forest rivers

in Environment/News

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Volunteers removed more than 18 tons of trash from four rivers within the Cherokee National Forest along the Tennessee Virginia and North Carolina borders.

Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful hosted the monthlong Cherokee National Forest River Cleanup Series. Forty-seven volunteers removed 16,648 pounds of trash from four different rivers.

“As awe-inspiring as the natural scenery is around the Cherokee National Forest’s rivers, we were even more inspired by the enthusiasm of our volunteers that took each cleanup to the highest level possible,” said Kathleen Gibi, Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful executive director.


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City of Knoxville launches new compost project

in Environment/News

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Knoxville residents and downtown restaurants can now drop off their food scraps to be composted through the Knoxville Compost Pilot Project.

“This project responds to demands in our community to limit the amount of waste sent to our landfills and reduce our greenhouse gas emissions,” says City of Knoxville Waste and Resources Manager, Patience Melnik.

“Not all residents want to—or are able to—maintain their own backyard compost. But by participating in the Knoxville Compost Pilot Project, they can keep food scraps out of the landfill while repurposing that material into healthy soil to grow local produce.”


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Explorers grab your hiking gear! | City of Knoxville starts offering guided hikes

in Environment/Nature/Places

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Novices and experts, grab your trekking shoes and hiking backpacks! The City of Knoxville wants people to get outside and join their Greenway and Urban guided hikes in November.

Every Thursday morning, Parks and Recreation staff leads guided hikes around various trails in Knoxville. The most recent hike was through the Fort Dickerson Trail System on Thursday, Nov. 4.

“The way we try to design our program for this is so that can offer something for everyone,” said Grant Howard, recreational specialist for the City of Knoxville’s parks and recreation. “It’s also an opportunity for more experience for outdoorsmen and people who love to be outside to get with people who are newer and introduce them to the wonderful world of outdoor recreation.”

The program is open to people who never stepped foot on a hiking trail. The trails range from beginner to moderate levels of difficulty. Officials said the hikes offer a well-rounded workout that will leave participants without any regrets.

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City of Knoxville to start leaf collection this week

in Environment

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Trees drop their leaves. You rake the piles. The city takes it all away.

This week the city of Knoxville begins its annual — and popular — task of collecting all the tons of leaves that fall here. We are indeed a Tree City, as homeowners are reminded each autumn when the oaks, maples and other trees start dropping their cover.

The city reminds residents to rake the piles and leave them loose for pickup. They have special equipment that will suck up the leaves up from a pile. Don’t bag them for collection.

Make sure the piles are close to the street so that city equipment can easily reach them. Don’t put the piles near mailboxes or vehicles.

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East Tennessee groups awarded TWRA grants for 2022 aquatic cleanups

in Environment

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — River and stream cleanups planned for 2022 are getting a boost from grants awarded by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, officials announced this week. TWRA says the grants were awarded to various organizations, including some from East Tennessee, for 19 projects across the state.

TWRA says the stream and aquatic cleanup grant program is designed to assist cities, schools, community organizations, civic groups, watershed organizations, and conservation groups, with stream clean-up projects.

The following East Tennessee groups received grants:

  • IJAMS Nature Center — Tennessee River-tributaries, creeks, and streams in Knox, Anderson, Blount and Loudon counties
  • Keep Cocke County Beautiful — Pigeon River, Cocke County
  • Norris Lake Project — Clinch River, Powell River, Gap Creek, Straight Creek, Cedar Creek, and Cool Branch Creek, Anderson, Campbell, Claiborne, Grainger, and Union counties.
  • Town of Farragut — Turkey Creek, Knox County

Ijams Nature Center hosts its annual Ijams River Rescue event that brings together 500-800 volunteers who remove tons of trash from the shores of the Tennessee River. The group reports that in 2020, 500 volunteers safely removed 12.6 tons of garbage from 32 sites.

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Find leaf pickup dates around East Tennessee

in Environment/Events

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — As fall begins, leaves are beginning to fall and many cities will begin picking up fallen leaves.

Maryville and Sevierville will begin collecting fallen leaves in October, Knoxville and Oak Ridge‘s pick-up starting in November. In Gatlingburg, leaf pick can be scheduled throughout the fall.

Requirments Loose Leaf Pickup

  • Leaves should be close to the curb, and outside of fenced areas
  • Rocks, sticks, branches and other debris should be removed
  • Leaves should not be placed on the street to avoid clogging storm drains


Maryville’s collection begins on Friday, October 15. Leaf pickup operates on the same schedule as brush and junk collection. Each zone will have one pickup per month, and the final pickup opportunity will be on January 2. The city will also have an additional leaf pickup in the spring. For more information visit or call 273-3302.

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Zero-waste business KnoxFill aims to make Knoxville “The Sustainable City”

in Business/Environment

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Recently opened Knoxville business KnoxFill is making it easier to take care of the environment and cut down on trash and plastic waste in the community.

The female-owned company provides alternatives to the items we use every day, like shampoo, lotion, soap and even toothpaste.

“I know Knoxville is the Maker City and the Scruffy City, and I think we’re well on our way to being the Sustainable City,” owner and founder Michaela Barnett said.

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Historic white oak tree in South Knoxville toppled by storms

in Environment

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — A family in South Knoxville is cleaning up after storms knocked over a massive and historic white oak tree dating back to the early roots of the United States of America.

Leigh Ann Dickert said the tree fell after powerful storms from Ida’s remnants moved through Knoxville Monday night, and it nearly fell on top of her and her husband.

“In the storms two days ago, we heard a little crack, and my husband stepped outside and saw the big shadow start to fall and started running and yelled to me to get away. It all happened so quickly that I couldn’t move,” she said. “It grabbed the power lines and fell… and he was able to move far enough away… it brushed the back of his leg and fell six feet from me.”

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Western U.S. wildfires cause striking East Tennessee sunset

in Environment

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) – Smoke from wildfires in the Western United States is having an effect on East Tennessee sunsets.

You may have noticed an angry-looking red sunset Tuesday evening. Much of that can be attributed to wildfire smoke from the West Coast, but the smoke is high enough not to impact Tennessee’s local air quality. It is not the air you’re breathing in.

Much of the West Coastland is composed of very dry forest and much of it is on fire earlier than normal. More than 2000 firefighters are battling the largest of them – Oregon’s Bootleg Fire. That blaze alone has charred nearly 365,000 acres of land.

That gigantic wildfire is far from the only one and it’s having an impact in our own backyard. Wildfire smoke from Oregon, Idaho, and Nevada is climbing several miles high. Turns out, it’s reaching us thousands of miles away.

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Corpse Flower ‘Rotty Top’ in bloom at University of Tennessee

in Environment

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — One of the largest flowers in the world has begun to bloom in Knoxville and if you check it out, you may want to bring a pair of nose plugs.

There’s a corpse flower at the University of Tennessee and it’s been dubbed, “Rotty Top”. Normally, a flower blooming isn’t a big deal, but the stinky corpse flower is unusual for more than just its smell.

Greenhouse manager Jeff Martin says, “So, what is unique about this one is it’s over 20-years-old and this is the first bloom. The blooms last 24-36 hours and it opens at night, so, we may be here camped out so we can properly document everything.”

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