He may not have lived here all his life, but he’s making up for lost time. Russell Fathauer came to know the scenic beauty of Kentucky Reservoir when he was stationed at Fort Campbell. Upon retirement a couple of years ago, he and his wife decided to make the area home. But instead of just kicking back and relaxing in his log cabin in Buchanon, Tennessee, he’s taken it upon himself to single-handedly police several miles of reservoir shoreline — picking up and disposing of litter thrown out of boats and car windows by careless folks who never stop to think of the consequences of their behavior.
Fathauer says he first noticed the amount of accumulated trash when he was bank fishing. Determined to do what he could to help, he made some local contacts and began what has turned into a personal quest to reduce the amount of garbage that ends up in and around Kentucky Reservoir. TVA provided him with trash bags and Paris Landing State Park furnished receptacles for disposal.
In the 18 months he’s been picking up litter on a regular basis (averaging two afternoons a week), he figures he’s filled around 186 large trash bags with waste. Old boat parts, life jackets, tires, beer cans, plastic bags, discarded fishing line — you name it, and he’s probably picked it up at some point. Fathauer doesn’t confine his cleanups to the waterline. His efforts to pick up litter that has blown offshore take him well into the woods, and in contact with everything from chiggers to poison ivy.
But he’s not looking for recognition of his dedication and work ethic. Fathauer says he’d much rather keep the focus on public education. When asked what message he’d like to share with those who live around and use the reservoir for recreation, he doesn’t hesitate: “If you take it to the lake, bring it back home with you.”
Lee and Denise Stevens have a vested interest in the health and beauty of Norris Reservoir. The Fentress County couple owns a web-based business that offers information about facilities, overnight accommodations, rental property, etc., as well as general information about Norris. The Stevenses approached TVA back in March of last year with an idea: they wanted to organize and sponsor an “adopt-a-shoreline”-type effort on Norris. Their plan was to get individuals and businesses to agree to semiannual cleanups of a selected one-mile stretch of shoreline. In exchange, the couple would erect a metal sign featuring the name of the adopting person(s) or group along the shoreline they have volunteered to help keep clean.
TVA granted them permission to erect the signs on public land and provided funding for the first 10 signs. The agency also shared information with the Stevenses, facilitating contacts among local homeowners’ associations and groups like the Friends of Norris Lake, Keep Union County Beautiful, and Keep Claiborne County Beautiful. The result? Seven miles of Norris Reservoir shoreline have already been formally “adopted.”
“We are so glad to see folks like Lee and Denise stepping up to play an active role in reducing the amount of trash that accumulates on the reservoir shorelines,” says TVA Watts Bar/Clinch Watershed Team member Tiffany Foster. “They started this whole thing, and now it’s really gaining momentum. More than two dozen people turned out for a recent spring cleanup event organized by the Stevenses. We pitched in by donating gloves and trash bags for what we hope will be the first of many similar events. Stakeholder-driven efforts like this are what’s going to make a long-term difference, and we want to support them in any way that we can.”
For more information, go to www.adoptashore.com.
When it comes to taking care of the environment, it’s a family affair. At least, that’s the case for Kingston, Tennessee, resident Brenda Kimmel. At different times, four generations of her family have pitched in to clean up the area around the Marble Bluff section of Roane County. From her waterfront home on the Tennessee River, Kimmel has a prime location from which to view the area’s abundant natural resources.
An East Tennessee resident since her teenage years, Kimmel is now retired and busier than ever. With help from several of her neighbors and support in the form of vests, gloves, and trash bags from Keep Roane Beautiful, Kimmel is out picking up litter every two weeks or so. Sometimes she can be found in the ditches along a busy highway, other times she’s walking along the reservoir shoreline with a trash bag in her hands. She and her granddaughter Jaimee have frequently picked up litter in the area around a TVA boat ramp close to her home. When Jaimee volunteered to conduct a cleanup as part of a school service project, Brenda, her mother, Christine, and her daughter Courtney all pitched in to help.
“I grew up camping and enjoying all kinds of recreation on TVA lakes,” says Kimmel. “I think my love for the outdoors and my respect for the environment is a result of my upbringing. We live in such a special place here in East Tennessee and litter can really detract from the natural beauty of our woods and waters. Roadside trash should be a source of embarrassment to us and good stewardship should be a matter of pride. I can think of no greater heritage I could pass along to my grandchildren than an awareness of how important it is to preserve our natural resources for future generations.”