'Community Restoration Cleanup Series' Launched, Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful Boat & Truck Outfitted through $6,000 Keep America Beautiful Grant

Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful launches ‘Community Restoration River Cleanup Series’ held within the Tennessee River watershed to mitigate litter following flooding.
Aug 3, 2020 4:30 PM ET
Press Release

This week, Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful (KTNRB) will launch the ‘Community Restoration River Cleanup Series’ held within the Tennessee River watershed to mitigate litter following this past spring’s flooding.

The cleanup series, as well as the outfitting of KTNRB’s 25-foot aluminum work boat and new truck, is made possible thanks to a $6,000 Community Restoration and Resiliency grant awarded by Keep America Beautiful (KAB). The grant is offered to KAB affiliates year-round to restore communities either through cleanup efforts, beautification, or infrastructure replacement following natural disasters.

The grant was awarded to KTNRB earlier this year, but the group had to hold off on hosting cleanups with volunteers due to the pandemic. Now that they have developed a COVID-19 policy* to ensure volunteer safety, they’ve scheduled an increased number of cleanups with a lower number of volunteers allowed on the boat to follow best social distancing practices.

“Though this grant was named for restoring communities after disaster events, I think this time around the term ‘community restoration’ will have a multilayered meaning for many of us,” said Kathleen Gibi, KTNRB Executive Director. “We’re all in the need for some good news these days, to feel like we’re not only part of a community, but still able to give back and we will be getting that sense of restoration, too, thanks to this Keep America Beautiful grant.”

Though more cleanups will be scheduled, the following are currently lined up:

Thursday, August 6 @ 9 a.m. | Fort Loudoun Lake (Knoxville, TN)
Friday, August 7 @ 5:30 p.m. | Douglas Lake (Dandridge, TN)
Saturday, August 8 @ 9 a.m. | Watts Bar Lake (Kingston, TN)
Tuesday, August 11 @ 9:30 a.m. | Cherokee Lake (Bean Station, TN)
Friday, August 14 @ 9:30 a.m. | Nickajack Lake (Chattanooga, TN)
Saturday, August 29 @ 9 a.m. | Chickamauga Lake (Chattanooga, TN)
Saturday, September 19 @ 10 a.m. | Norris Lake (Norris, TN)

The KAB grant will support the cleanup series with supplies for the volunteers including gloves, bags, litter grabbers, and skimmer nets on 16-foot poles, among other supplies. The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) supports KTNRB’s river cleanups through an ongoing work plan agreement.


The impact of the KAB grant will extend beyond this 2020 cleanup series, as it will also fund equipment and materials to outfit KTNRB’s 25-foot aluminum work boat and recently purchased Ford F-250 truck. Both vehicles were purchased in part with supportive funds from TVA and others. The boat is now sporting a new Yamaha SHO 90 outboard motor donated by Yamaha and Anderson Marine Family Boating Center.

The improvements made to the boat and truck will help KTNRB’s river cleanup effectiveness. Some of the improvements include:

  • Ramps to allow large, heavy tires to be rolled up onto the boat from the shore

  • Heavy-weight chains for towing items that can’t be immediately pulled from the water

  • All-terrain, collapsible wagons that help to haul litter to the boat when floods push debris far inland (litter can be deposited as far as 50 yards inland)

  • Kayaks for retrieving marine debris in shallow waters

  • Loppers and hedge trimmers to cut through brush that inevitably grows over litter piles

  • Netting to hold litter in the boat for hauling when a dumpster is not available on site

  • Shelving/hooks to store tools in the truck bed camper shell

“These improvements to our fleet are giving us the chance to do more heavy-duty work,” said Gibi. “Thanks to supportive donations and grants like these, we’re truly staged to make a greater impact for our river community.”

Gibi said that this will help with flood mitigation as larger items like dock foam blocks, tires, lawn furniture, grills, and infrastructure pieces can get pulled into the river during high, forceful waters.

In early 2020, flooding hit the Tennessee River Valley hard for a second year in a row, with the first three months of the year marking the wettest start to any year in Tennessee River Valley history. The previous record was set in 1891. In 2019, KAB awarded KTNRB with a $10,000 monetary grant through the same program following the wettest February that had been recorded to date. This year’s grant was awarded through gift cards provided by Lowe’s, the home improvements store.

“It's just fantastic to be able to work with our partners who invest in Keep America Beautiful to help administer these grants, and with affiliates like Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful who put these funds to great use,” said Helen Lowman, President and CEO of Keep America Beautiful. “The team at KTNRB continues to impress with their ability to serve all the communities that surround the Tennessee River with their focus on this important American waterway."

For more information on or to sign up to be part of the Community Restoration River Cleanup Series, visit https://www.keeptnriverbeautiful.org/community-restoration

* To view KTNRB’s COVID-19 policy, visit www.KeepTNRiverBeautiful.org/covid.