Conservation doesn’t end with recording a land protection document. Stewardship of protected lands extends in perpetuity, and sometimes requires remediation of past problems for a property. Dedicated East TN State Univ. students responded to our call for a “Service Saturday”, helping clean up debris from illicit dumping on a protected, historic TN property.
The benefits of working with these student volunteers extended far beyond the impressive mountains of trash pulled out of waterways and forests. Through our partnership, the students glimpsed some of the challenges of managing natural resources — in this case, hundreds of acres bordered by a public road.
During the workday, volunteers tackled heaps of trash and debris that for decades had been dumped from cars on the public route encircling the 377-acre cove. Illegally-dumped debris had accumulated in gullies and on hillsides of this secluded corner in Unicoi County, which features the historic homestead of US House Representative and majority leader John Q. Tilson.
Landowners and caretakers Ken and Lotta Murray have been steadily reducing these debris piles for years, but the situation required a concerted effort to make a big impact.
By the end of the day, our trash-removal efforts overflowed a dumpster-trailer, a second trailer bed, and a truck bed. Our team of ten removed a total of 1,300 pounds of assorted trash and debris from the conservation easement property, along with a number of tires — including one from a Model-T Ford.
Impressed by their impact, the students began talking about organizing other cleanups on campus and in the region. It is empowering to tackle a problem with such a visible result, and that empowerment is contagious!