46 Years of Accomplishments
Tennessee Environmental Council was founded in 1970, and we are just as enthusiastic today about taking care of the landscape we call home as we were upon our founding. We are richly blessed to live, work and play in such a beautiful, ecologically diverse state, and it is an honor to work to make it even better.
Thank you for your contributions that supported our successes through the past 46 years! Please scroll down to review our most recent milestones and all that we’ve done since our founding in 1970.
2017 Highlights and Headlines
100K Tree Day: Riding on the success of the last two years, we decided to double the amount of trees planted in one day. One February 25 20,000 volunteers in all 95 counties planted 100,000 trees!
2016 Highlights and Headlines
50K Tree Day: One of our favorite 2016 highlights was engaging more than 6,000 volunteers in planting 50,000 trees in 92 counties during 50K Tree Day. This was our second annual 50K-tree-planting event, earning us the 2016 Governor’s Environmental Stewardship Award – our third in the past 10 years!
Veterans Day/Arbor Day: The Council organized our second annual event on 11/11/2016, giving away 1,500 native tree seedlings across Tennessee to honor the dedication of our nation’s Veterans and public servants. More than 250 Veterans were named as honorees from these trees.
Grassy Branch & Lytle Creek: The Council’s team of eco-restoration specialists made progress restoring and cleaning up these polluted, yet ecologically significant streams: stopping bank erosion, re-establishing riparian (streamside) vegetation, improving habitat for fish and protecting drinking water supplies.
Dozens of State-Wide Education Events: The Council delivered presentations to hundreds of individuals at schools, community groups and the General Assembly on water quality, rain gardens, recycling, riverbank restoration, sustainability, and of course, the value of trees.
Nashville GreenField Restoration Project (a 120-acre ecological-restoration project in West Nashville): The Council team, volunteers and community partners made significant progress, including establishing a certified Level 1 Arboretum; identifying 46 species of birds, and removing 10 acres of invasive plant species, making way for a living, thriving example of Tennessee’s biodiversity.
10th Annual Policy & Practice Forum: The Council convened a gathering of sustainability leaders statewide and identified the top 5 priorities for a more Sustainable Tennessee. These priorities as voted on by our constituents will be shared with the General Assembly in 2017.
2015 Highlights and Headlines
November 11: Dozens of volunteer participants statewide plant trees provided at no cost by the Council to plant in honor of US Military Veterans. We celebrate Arbor Day in November while paying tribute to those who serve our nation.
August 26: More than 40 stakeholders from across Tennessee gather at our annual Policy & Practice workshop for a Sustainable Tennessee
June 9: Watershed Support takes students into the creek near Cleveland to learn ways to improve the Duck River Watershed and its tributaries.
March 14: 50K Tree Day results in 52,000 trees distributed statewide to more than 3,000 volunteer planters in hundreds of planting events scheduled for this day. All trees were provided at no cost to participants.
March 3: At Conservation Education Day, members of the Tennessee Environmental Council and other environmental activists, leaders and concerned citizens from across Tennessee gather to meet with members of the Tennessee General Assembly. We delivered tree seedlings to key Leadership, like Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey, Senator Steve Southerland, Speaker Beth Harwell and others. We also shared our Natural Resource Priorities for a Sustainable Tennessee with these and other members.
Jan 24: Council hosts Wild and Scenic Film Festival – our first — at UT Chattanooga. The event features inspiring and spectacular documentary films about our local, regional and global environment, and how people are taking care of it.
Jan 23: Our Regional Sustainability Forum at Tennessee Wesleyan College in Athens Tennessee attracts more than 40 students and members of the local community to discuss the topic of Sustainability in their community, on campus and throughout Tennessee. Results from this and all Regional Sustainability Forums are used to update our Priorities for a Sustainable Tennessee — a working document we update year after year.
2014 Highlights and Headlines
- Council promotes a vision of Tennessee that embraces natural resources as the backbone of our communities, economy and quality of life for present and future generations.
- Council honors the legacy of our co-founder Cecil Branstetter who passes away at age 93. In 1970, Mr. Brandstetter was one of a small group of environmentalists that convened to create an organization that would tie together many different organizations with diverse, but common priorities into focused advocacy in the state legislature on behalf of Tennessee’s environment.
- Long-time Council board member and former Chairman Don Safer is invited by Nuclear Regulatory Committee to testify in DC about benefits of investing in alternatives to nuclear power, as well as present a community-activist perspective on negative consequences of nuclear power in Tennessee.
- Council plants its 100,000th tree in Athens TN!
- A total of 1,553 volunteers participate in Council events, contributing 5700 volunteer hours valued at $109,497.00. A Council record!
Tennessee Tree Project
- 10K Tree Day in March makes national news from San Fran to DC
- Council staff, volunteers, friends and partners plant more than 30,000 native trees in Tennessee, including our 100,000th tree since 2007
- Council proposal to attempt world record tree planting within next three years is approved by Guinness World Records.
- Council is awarded “Friends of Forestry” Award by TN Division of Forestry
- Conservation Education Day on Tennessee Capitol Hill draws organizations and activists from across Tennessee to meet their legislators and advocate for sustainability policies.
- Council honors Mark Deutschmann with the 2014 Sustainable Tennessee Award. Thank you for your great work Mark!
- Council coordinates regional sustainability forums in Nashville, Knoxville and Chattanooga — gathering the best ideas of a Sustainable Tennessee, and updating our Sustainable Tennessee Agenda for 2015.
- Partnership with Friends of Henry Horton State Park takes over 500 students into Duck River to learn, study, collect data, and splash!
- New collaboration with Tennessee Stormwater Association promises to reach all 95 counties with watershed restoration plans and projects.
- Council publishes “Citizen Action Guide to Watershed Restoration”
- Council-led settlement with industry cleans up stormwater runoff in Nashville
- Council’s newly acquired Gar Barge plucks 16 bags of trash from the Tennessee River in the Tennessee River Rescue
2013 Highlights and Headlines
Southeast TN Project and Chattanooga Office
- On August 28 we officially launched our Southeast Tennessee Project in Chattanooga. We have hosted and participated in several great events in Chattanooga including our 2013 Summit for a Sustainable TN.
Watershed Support Center – www.tectn.org/programs/watershed-support-center
- Continued work on the Fish Habitat Restoration Initiative with support from the Dan and Margaret Maddox Charitable Fund and the Urban Small Streams program supported by grants from the US EPA and the TN Dept. of Agriculture Division of Forestry Riparian Buffer Program. These projects allow us to protect drinking water quality by promoting and restoring the economic and health value of wet weather conveyances, small streams and wetlands.
- With the Environmental Law Institute and Center for Watershed Protection, we will roll out our “Citizen Action Guide for Watershed Assessment and Restoration” in January 2014 to help citizens better assess and restore polluted streams.
- Expanded our award-winning “Protecting our Watershed” youth education curriculum, partnering with the GM Global Rivers Education Network in Columbia, Friends of Henry Horton State Park & Chapel Hill Elementary, Mt. Juliet Middle School, and Byars Dowdy & Winfree Bryant schools in Lebanon.
- Assisted with two rain garden projects totaling 4,500 square feet. These rain gardens will help reduce erosion and stormwater pollution and add beauty to the landscape.
- Helped Mars Petcare improve, restore and maintain the Trails at Fontanel and planted 175 trees along Whites Creek with the support of over 100 volunteers!
Tennessee Tree Project – www.tectn.org/tree
- Planted and/or gave away nearly 25,000 trees statewide along with sponsors, local businesses and organizations including Mars Petcare, Schneider Electric, Bridgestone Firestone, Whole Foods, LP Environmental, ABB, TN Agricultural Enhancement Program, Community Foundation of Middle TN, Fontanel, Adventureworks, and many others.
- Hosted our first (and second) TREE-mendous 10K Tree Day with 600 volunteers including businesses and school groups. The event was featured on News Channel 5 in Nashville!
10K tree day is a “race” to plant 10,000 trees in one day. These trees will clean our air, land and water for generations to come!
- Gave away 3,000 tree seeds at the 2013 CMA Music Fest and launched our “Puttin’ the Tree in Country” initiative with support from TN Wildlife Resources Agency. After all there is no country music without country and there is no country without trees!
- Nearly 75 participants including Volkswagen, TVA, TDEC, Sierra Club, BEST/MATRR and EPB joined us for the 2013 Sustainable Tennessee Summit – held for the first time in Chattanooga.
- The Sustainable TN Task Force met in August to establish priorities for 2014, launching new programs and infrastructure to enhance collaboration including online networking tools and quarterly meetings with TN Dept. of Environment and Conservation (TDEC).
- We maintained a strong presence at the state legislature. The 2013 Sustainable TN Agenda was distributed to Tennessee legislators and media. Approximately 500 people showed “Green Means Business” at our third annual Conservation Education Day at the Legislative Plaza. Participants met with their legislators, attended committee meetings, and discussed the economic and job-creating value of sustainability.
- Educated Tennessee citizens about radioactive waste issues with the support of a grant from Community Foundation of New Mexico. We distributed surveys in an effort to inform the Department of Energy (DOE) about public opinion concerning radioactive waste disposal decisions. Visit the Radioactive Waste Education Project page to learn more.
- Participated with Sierra Club and other group in a “People’s Public Hearing” encouraging TN Valley Authority (TVA) to consider energy efficiency measures and close the Gallatin Steam Plant instead of spending over $1 billion on required upgrades. Put legal pressure on TVA to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act.
- Partnered with other groups to successfully negotiate with TVA to secure a new location for the Cumberland River Aquatic Center, a facility utilized by TWRA to propagate several species of endangered mussels. The facility was located adjacent to the Gallatin Steam plant.
- Continued to educate and advocate for a bill that would limit Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining in TN.
- Collaborated with several organizations and citizens across the state to advocate on regulatory and/or legislative matters impacting Tennessee’s air, land, water and energy from the local to the federal level.
And So Much More…
- Engaged nearly 2,000 volunteers, including 746 students, for over 5,000 total volunteer hours valued at nearly $100,000!
- Hosted the 22st annual Green Tie Affair in April. We had about 150 in attendance and presented the 2012 Sustainability Award to Karen Grubbs and Dan Eager, both recently retired from TDEC. This spectacular event was held at University Club in Nashville.
- Recognized several Council members through our Featured Member program including Operation Stand Down, General Motors, Tamika Parker, and Bruce Wood-BURNT.
- Enjoyed a “wildflower walk” with State Naturalist, Randy Hedgepath in Mt. Juliet.
Watershed Support & Duck River Opportunities Project
- The Council and Friends of Henry Horton State Park won the Governor’s Environmental Stewardship Award for “Environmental Education and Outreach.” The award recognized our Watershed Education project which trains elementary school students to study the health of the Duck River and to participate in projects to protect and improve the river, which is one of the most bio-diverse systems in the world.
- We completed the Duck River Opportunities Project (DROP) and launched the Fish Habitat Restoration Initiative. These programs expanded our successful volunteer restoration events. We planted 5,000 trees and stabilized close to 1,500 feet of creek bank, reducing sedimentation, the leading cause of our drinking water pollution.
- We launched the Fish Habitat Restoration Initiative with support from the Dan and Margaret Maddox Charitable Fund, and the Urban Small Streams program supported by a grant from the US EPA. Both projects will allow us to continue to promote the economic and health value of small streams, headwaters, wetlands and conveyances to drinking water quality throughout TN. With the Environmental Law Institute and Center for Watershed Protection, we have already started working on an Action Guide to help citizens assess and restore degraded streams.
- CEO John McFadden delivers presentation in Murfreesboro about the Garrison Creek stream bank restoration project. Watch the video here…
Tennessee Tree Project – www.tectn.org/tree
- Partnered with local businesses and organizations, including Mars Petcare, Schneider Electric, ABB and more, to plant or give away over 20,000 trees from Memphis to Knoxville. On one cold rainy February day we planted 5,611 trees at 5 different locations, with over 189 volunteers in celebration of John McFadden’s 50th birthday!
- Our tree planting project with Mars Petcare was featured on public television’s Tennessee Wild Side program.
- On September 11 we partnered with Tennessee Concrete Association at the Rutherford County Sheriff Department 9/11 Memorial to give away 1,200 memorial Virginia Pines trees.
- We also gave thousands of trees away at Nashville Earth Day and other events.
Sustainable Tennessee – www.SustainableTN.org
Meetings & Events
- The 2012 Sustainable Tennessee Summit brought over 100 participants together to collaborate on priority issues and actions from the Sustainable Tennessee Agenda. The coalition established the 2013 Agenda and priorities at a meeting in August.
- The 2012 Sustainable TN Agenda was distributed to Tennessee legislators at a press Conference in January. We even found some common ground with many Tea Party activists who attended. That’s correct, Tea Party activists!
- Over 500 people showed their support for Green Jobs at our third annual Conservation Education Day at Legislative Plaza. Participants met with their legislators, attended committee meetings, and illuminated state leaders about the economic and job-creating value of sustainability initiatives.
Sustainable TN Policy & Practice Initiatives
- Educated Tennessee citizens about radioactive waste issues with the support of a grant from Community Foundation of New Mexico. We distributed surveys and informed the Department of Energy (DOE) about public opinion concerning DOE decisions. You can help – please complete our survey and learn more about this issue on the Radioactive Waste Education Project page.
- We presented a petition to TVA and Legislators asking TVA to re-establish its large scale solar installations program. The petition had nearly 1,000 signatures. We also started a petition to stop needless destruction of trees near TVA power lines, which do not pose a threat the lines.
- Sponsored and helped organize the “No Nukes Y’All Summit” in Chattanooga.
- We garnered more support than ever for a bill that would limit Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining in TN.
- We worked with some unlikely partners to kill a bill that would have raised taxes on and devastated TN’s fledging solar industry. Are YOU buying renewable power thru TVA’s Green Power Switch program www.tva.com/greenpowerswitch?
- The Council collaborated with other organizations and citizens across the state on regulatory and/or legislative matters impacting Tennessee’s air, land, water and energy from the local to the federal level. We worked on issues including air quality, landfills, local mitigation of wetlands and streams, and working to make sure funds for state parks and conservation were used as intended.
Workshops, Educational Outreach & Events
- Hosted the 21st annual Green Tie Affair in April. We had 200 in attendance and presented the 2012 Sustainability Award to Dodd Galbreath, of David Lipscomb University. The event was held at locally owned Marathon Music Works.
- Launched our new website at www.tectn.org with support of a Frist grant. This site will improve our efforts to bring you the latest news, reports and action alerts.
- Welcomed new staff members Laura Hardwicke as Development Assistant, and Kelly Poole as Legislative and Policy Affairs and Watershed Program Manager.
Watch a short video of John McFadden, CEO, wading in the creek, and showcasing one of the pollution problems addressed by our restoration efforts
Tennessee Tree Project
• Partnered with local businesses and organizations, including Tennessee Concrete Association, to plant or give away over 7,500 trees from Memphis to Knoxville.
• In spring we potted over 500 trees to plant in the fall with our partners including Mars Petcare, who planted 280 trees this October – 80 more than planned!
• We also gave hundreds of trees away at Nashville Earth Day and other events.
Watershed Support & Duck River Opportunities Project
• Through the Duck River Opportunities Project (DROP) we continued to carry out volunteer restoration events, planting over 1,000 trees and stabilizing close to 1,000 feet of creek bank, reducing sedimentation, the leading cause of water pollution.
• With the support of Friends of Henry Horton State Park we took over 125 middle school students into the Duck River, one of the world’s most biologically diverse river systems, to study the health of the aquatic system. The students planted 300 trees to improve water quality.
• Continued to promote the economic and health value of wet weather conveyances, small streams, headwaters and wetlands to TDEC, the Water Board and our conservation partners.
• In 2012 we will work on a Fish Habitat Restoration Initiative in Middle Tennessee with the support of a grant from Dan and Margaret Maddox Charitable Fund.
Meetings & Events:
• The 2011 Tennessee Sustainable Economy Summit brought 200 participants together to collaborate on priority issues and actions from the 2012 Sustainable Tennessee Agenda. The 2012 Agenda and priorities were established at a meeting in August.
• The 2011 Sustainable TN Agenda was distributed to Tennessee legislators at a press Conference in January.
• Over 800 people showed their support for Green Jobs at our third annual Conservation Education Day at Legislative Plaza. Participants met with their legislators, attended committee meetings, and brought some sunshine to the economic and job-creating value of sustainability initiatives.
• Partnered with TDEC on three successful regional TN Pollution Prevention Partnership (TP3) workshops reaching over 150 businesses in Memphis, Spring Hill and Knoxville.
Sustainable TN Policy & Practice Initiatives:
• Lobbied to help kill a bill that would have done away with the Energy Efficiency Schools Initiative. The program has approved nearly $16 million grant applications to date and has $90 million in funding available to help create greener schools and green jobs in TN.
• Continued to educate and advocate for keeping Forever Green Tennessee with the victorious effort to restore $16 Million for land conservation to its rightful place in the 2011 State Budget.
• Advocated for TVA to re-establish its large scale solar installations program through a petition on Change.org and working with legislative representatives.
• Council Board members and staff were quoted in, or wrote, feature pieces and Op Eds for nearly 100 media features including The Tennessean, Chattanooga Pulse, WSMV – Nashville Channel 4, Tennessee’s Wild Side, and The Weather Channel.
• The Council collaborated with other organizations and citizens across the state on regulatory and/or legislative matters impacting Tennessee’s air, land, water and energy from the local to the federal level. Together we opposed: mountaintop removal coal mining; Tennessee’ role as the international destination for “low level” radioactive waste processing & disposal; and TVA’s aggressive nuclear reactor construction program. We supported the state´s petition to declare the watershed of the Big South Fork National Recreation Area as lands unsuitable for mining.
Workshops, Educational Outreach & Events
• Hosted water quality monitoring and rain garden workshops and launched our small business sustainability workshop series.
• Celebrated the Council’s 40th Anniversary at the 20th annual Green Tie Affair in April. We had about 250 in attendance and presented the 2011 Sustainability Award to Nashville Mayor Karl Dean and his wife Anne Davis.
• Presented the 2010 Sustainability Award to Alan Sparkman and 2011 Outstanding Volunteer Awards to: Don Richardson, Steven Sondheim, Sandra Goss, Mary Mastin, Sam Gomberg, Mike Crosby, John Fenderson, Kevin Guenther and Ray Phillips.
• Hosted our annual membership meeting in August to plan for 2012.
• Kevin and Katie Guenther, Design Resource and Sustainable Living Guild, hosted a house party and tour of their amazing homestead – a model of sustainability.
• In 2012, we will educate Tennessee citizens about radioactive waste issues with the support of a significant grant from Community Foundation of New Mexico.
Tennessee Tree Project
- Worked with local businesses and organizations including Tennessee Concrete Association to plant over 10,000 trees from the Wolf River in Memphis to the middle Nolichucky in East TN.
- Launched the Tennessee Tree Project website where participants may register their trees and receive valuable information about the planting and care of their tree.
Watershed Support & Duck River Opportunities Project
- Duck River Opportunities Project (DROP) carried out 12 volunteer restoration events, planting over 1000 trees and stabilizing 1300 feet of creek bank, reducing the pollution of our drinking water.
- Continued to promote the economic and health value of wet weather conveyances, small streams, headwaters and wetlands to TDEC, the Water Board and our conservation partners.
Workshops & Educational Outreach
- We trained over 50 stormwater coordinators and 20 greenway managers in better site design, stormwater management and retrofitting for clean water, as well as 20 consultants in better utilization of EPA’s watershed website.
- We took over 100 middle school students into the Duck River, one of the world’s most biologically diverse river systems, to study the health of the aquatic system. The students planted 300 trees to improve water quality.
- Facilitated internships for 6 college students helping them to advance their educational and career goals.
- Worked with over 100 volunteers throughout the year, providing an opportunity to learn about planting and care of trees, stream restoration, and policy initiatives.
- The Council consolidated office space in August and reduced our rent by two-thirds. We also donated a great deal of our extra furniture to a Nashville business that was completely devastated by the May flood.
- Helped Forever Green Tennessee with the victorious effort to restore $16 Million to its rightful place in the 2010 State Budget for land conservation.
- The 2010 Summit brought nearly 100 individuals and 50 organizations together to develop the 2011 Sustainable Tennessee Agenda, and establish the top five policy and practice priorities.
- Our 2nd annual Conservation Education Day at Legislative Plaza included over 80 participants and 30 organizations who met with their legislators, attended committee meetings, and brought a spotlight to the economic and job-creation value of sustainability initiatives.
- The Council and its partners collaborated on over 25 regulatory and/or legislative matters impacting Tennessee air, land, water, and energy from the local to the federal level.
- Advocated for TVA to establish an annual 1% energy efficiency goal and assisted with passage of a Metro Nashville Council resolution endorsing that goal.
- Board Chair Don Safer served on a Nuclear Regulatory commission in Washington trying to slow or stop the inflow of nuclear waste into Tennessee.
- Helped pass a resolution through legislature requiring TDEC to report annually to the General Assembly on TVA´s emergency preparedness, safety and structural integrity of coal ash dams, and transition from wet to dry coal ash storage for all coal power plants in Tennessee.
- Testified at the legislature on issues including stopping nuclear dumping in Tennessee, protecting small streams, and reducing solid waste pollution through a bottle bill.
- The Council influenced members of the Tennessee Legislature to reconsider a proposed bill to further extend the usage of older, polluting school buses. We shared data which showed that older buses contribute sixty times the air pollution of newer models. The bill was not enacted.
- The Council joined with other organizations and citizens across the state in opposing the practice of mountaintop removal coal mining and supporting legislative and other actions to protect our mountains and streams. We testified in the Legislature and before administrative boards & agencies on adequate Tennessee water quality standards for selenium, and at the Citizens Coal Ash Hearing in Roane County and to EPA on strong federal regulation of coal ash.
- Awarded several outstanding conservation leaders including Mack Prichard & Warner Bass, and Brian Paddock Louise Gorenflo, Stacey Cothran & Teresa Dugger of Friends of Henry Horton State Park.
With your support we have accomplished much in 2009, including working to implement sustainable policy from the legislature to city hall. We’ve fixed stream banks, planted trees and hosted the largest gathering of conservation-minded Tennesseans in our continued effort to speak as one voice across Tennessee. Here are a few highlights:
- The Sustainable Tennessee Summit brought over 150 individuals and 90 organizations together to develop Tennessee’s Sustainability Agenda and the top three conservation and environmental priorities for 2010.
- Testified at the legislature on issues ranging from stopping nuclear dumping in Tennessee, the bottle bill, and the school bus bill which was modified to help avoid negative health effects on school children.
- Duck River Opportunities Project received the 2009 Tennessee Governor’s Environmental Stewardship Award for Aquatic Resource Preservation in part for planting thousands of trees and repairing about 1500 feet of eroding creek bank.
- Installed our first rain garden in the Duck River Watershed with help from the City of Spring Hill.
- Successfully advocated the naming of a physician to the Air Pollution Control Board.
- Advocated and made significant gains to protect our drinking water collection system, perhaps the most vital component of Tennessee’s sustainability.
- Partnered with REI to coordinate hundreds of volunteers in the Urban Community Forestry Initiative and Recreational Greenway Enhancement Project in the Duck River and Old Hickory watersheds. See the full report and pictures here.
- 2008 Summit had 220 participants and 130 organizations.
- Conducted conservation policy development meeting.
- Developed first ever conservation policy agenda with over 60 different policy recommendations from environmental community.
- Developed strategy to keep Agenda priorities moving forward.
- Conducted Regional Sustainability forums in Knoxville, Chattanooga and Memphis.
- Sponsored conservation lobby day March 18, 2008.
- Hosted conservation/environmental table each week at legislative plaza in March 2008
- Planted trees with Habitat for Humanity in their latest all habitat community
- Worked with Nashville Earth Day committee to plan, and execute the Nashville Earth Day festival. Distributed hundreds of native tree saplings for planting in the fall.
- Hosted successful Green Tie Affair providing networking and fun for over 250 people in the community and raising approximately $35K for the Councils work. rshed SuppoAward quatic R
- Distributed over 2,000 tree seedlings to Council members, churches, storm water coordinators and other volunteers for planting
- Carried out and or participated in watershed restoration in the Old Hickory, Wolf, Obed, Stones Rivers and Richland Creek Watersheds.
- Conducted training for Old Hickory Watershed Storm water personnel in stream bank restoration
- Conducted 12 restoration events in the Duck River Watershed, utilizing over 200 volunteers and 1000 of volunteer hours to reforest stream sides and fix eroding stream banks.
- Worked with Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility to identify and correct failed wetland mitigation sites across Tennessee
- Trained teachers in Wilson and Maury counties to conduct watershed and water quality assessment utilizing students
- Trained Wilson County storm water personnel in watershed and water quality assessment
- Worked on Solid waste task force advocating for removal of the 25% recycling credit for land filling in Construction and demolition waste landfills
- Continued to pressure TVA to reduce power needs through conservation and use renewable energy sources
- Worked with national Wildlife Federation to move federal clean energy and jobs bill through the House of Representatives and Senate
- The Council, in partnership with Tennessee Conservation Voters, undertook the 1st Annual Summit for a Sustainable Tennessee, bringing together everyone from representatives of state government to concerned citizens to discuss the future of Tennessee and how we can collaboratively shape it to create healthier communities, improve economic self-sufficiency, and preserve the beauty of our state.
- Launched the Tennessee Tree project (formerly known as urban and community forestry project)
- Took the lead in planning and implementation of the Nashville Earth Day festival
- Planted 3000 trees in the Duck river Watershed
- Planted 2000 trees on the Wolf River along with the Wolf River Conservancy in Memphis
- Successfully lobbied, along with TCV for the Heart of the Cumberlands bill, Conserving 124K acres of lands rich in biodiversity and forests on the Cumberland plateau.
- Planted 100 two inch caliper trees at the Providence Park, an all Habitat for Humanity house subdivision
- Received 2 year restoration grant from TN Department of Agriculture to restore tributaries of the Duck River.
- Took over 200 students into streams to learn about aquatic ecology and to identify opportunities for restoration.
- Received grant to work on changing US Forest Service management in the Upper Tellico Off Highway Vehicle Area
In 2005 the Council celebrated its 35th anniversary.
- New Source Review – The Council was a lead organization in determining how new source review rules would be applied in Tennessee. NSR involves new sources of air pollution and under which circumstances these sources will be regulated. The federal administration issued rules that the Council disagreed with and sought to have amended before being adopted by Tennessee. Subsequently, those federal rules were struck down by the courts as being a violation of the Clean Air Act.
- The Council served as a member of the states NSR Advisory Panel, and worked closely with state officials and the regulated community. The recommendations then were forwarded to the state Air Pollution Control Board for adoption. This work sought to reduce air pollution across the state; therefore, all the citizens of the state will benefit from the work.
- The Council, acting in its capacity as the lead environmental organization on the states CAFO (concentrated animal feeding operation) Advisory Board, continued to work to improve the rules for operating CAFOs and to prevent siting of new CAFOs in unsuitable locations. This work included oversight of CAFO applications, litigation to prevent CAFOs and work with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation and the Water Pollution Control Board to improve management of agricultural pollution. As with the NSR rule, the CAFO management rules have been a matter of federal lititgation. the Council continues to work to see that Tennessee has strict regulations that will prevent pollution from CAFOs, especially the threat of catastrophic dumps of untreated sewage into water ways. Those people in rural communities where agriculture is a dominant economic activity (more than 50 counties in TN) will benefit from this protection of ground and surface water supplies.
- The Council received grants from the World Wildlife Fund and from Patagonia, Inc. to work on this issue.
- The Council worked as part of a larger coalition of groups focused on improving water quality in the state and was instrumental in writing new rules for consideration by the state and the Water Pollution Control Board. Those rules were to be finalized in 2006. During the year, the Council attended 8 coalition meetings, coordinated with 15 other organizations an laid out a long-term strategy for addressing persistent pollution problems affecting water quality.
- The Council organized a group of conservation leaders to begin consideration and promotion of a long-term land conservation strategy. Several meetings were organized by the Council and its board members to consider immediate threats to land prothe Counciltion and the various administrative and legislative solutions. These efforts resulted in a land conservation funding plan drafted by the Council that later (2006) was incorporated into legislation in the TN House and Senate. the Council continues to be involved in efforts to prothe Councilt Tennessees remaining open spaces, which serve as a benefit to all the public who utilize them for recreation activities.
- New Source Review – rules promulgated by the Bush Administration would weaken the restrictions regulating new or expanded sources of air pollution. the Council opposed the rule changes that are being considered by TN at this time. The Air Pollution Control Board likely will take this issue up at its June meeting. The Council served on a joint committee to negotiate potential changes to the rules.
- Non-attainment – TN has 18 counties out of attainment for ozone pollution and seven counties out of attainment for particulate matter. The Council has been a strong voice for greater controls on the sources of emissions that cause these pollution problems. For both ozone and particulate matter the EPA designated more counties than TN first identified, largely because some of the counties are close to violating standards and are contributors to the pollutants. The Council pushed the department to establish stronger controls.
- Staley – The Council is party to the appeal of a permit issued to a Staley facility in Loudon County. This area already has high levels of toxic pollutants that have been investigated by the state health department and the EPA. The new facility would increase emissions of aldehydes and volatile organic compounds that contribute to ozone. Loudon is a non-attainment county, a concern that TDEC did not address in issuing the permit.
Citizens across the state of TN will benefit from this work, all of which is directed at reducing the pollutants emitted into the air in the state.
- Conservation Easements – The TN Conservation Easement Act allowed any citizen to intervene to prothe Councilt an existing easement. This statute was cited by the appeals court that ruled in our favor in a wetland destruction case in Chattanooga. As a result, Tennesseans may continue to intervene to prothe Councilt land where a conservation easement may be wrongfully broken.
Again, any citizens in the state who want conservation easements may cite this case as reason for standing to keep these lands in conservation.
- Appeals – In November the Council began working with TDEC to encourage a direct appeal process for water permits (NPDES, ARAP, 401). A bill was introduced by the administration and passed this week. Despite efforts tomake it a better bill with no limits as to who may appealand to create stays of appealed permits, TDEC and many other environmental organizations agreed to a weaker bill. The bill does take a step in the right direction by providing a direct appeal, but there are many hurdles to overcome,and this approach is arguably less citizen friendly than the EPA rules.
- Serving as a lead organizer in the movement to preserve the Wetlands and State Parks Land Acquisitions Fund, currently in danger of being eliminated from the state budget with all funds rerouted to the general fund. The Fund is the states mechanism for leveraging the matching funds used to preserve wetlands and acquire new park lands.
- Leading an opposition movement to a proposed Louisiana Energy Services uranium enrichment plant in Hartsville, TN, together with Citizens for Smart Choices. Activities include rallies, press conferences and press releases, citizen and legislator education, public hearings and forums, and research and dissemination of information on the uranium enrichment process and industry.
- Serving on Tennessees Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO) panel to advise the state on the environmental and public health impacts of feed lots.
- Helped to organize and participating in briefings made to the new TDEC commissioner on critical air, land, and water issues selected by environmental and public health organizations around the state as most important for the new administrations attention and action.
- Co-sponsored a forum on the environment and public health for the general public and for health care professionals in collaboration with the Vanderbilt Center on Molecular Toxicology and the Trust for Americas Health to raise public awareness of the need for a stronger public health system infrastructure, particularly a health-tracking system.
- Successfully led an effort to prevent wastewater from a sewage treatment plant from being discharged into Dry Fork Creek (a tier II, high quality stream) and the Rumbling Falls Cave system in Fall Creek Falls State Park.
- Organized local opposition to the construction and operation of proposed power plants in Memphis and Jackson in collaboration with local organizations, preventing projected emission of more than 248 tons of nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxide pollution.
- Launched an innovative program to partner with houses of faith and social justice organizations in environmental stewardship efforts, resulting in presentations and mini-courses on environmental stewardship at congregations in Davidson County; new collaborative projects with local community gardening, recycling, and food security efforts; and media coverage in the Tennessean, the City Paper and the Nashville Scene.
- Hosted an Earth Day Symposium with former Vice President Al Gore.
- Launched the Watershed Association Development Project (WADE), a collaborative effort with VISTA/Americorps* designed to facilitate the establishment of independent local watershed prothe Counciltion groups in each of the two watersheds surrounding Big South Fork, home to critically endangered habitats.
- Hosted an art exhibit together with the Alaska Coalition of Tennessee featuring the work of Juliana Ericson and her vision of the majesty of Alaska to raise awareness about the importance of safeguarding the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from oil drilling.
- Served as a partner organization in the Tennessee Clean Air Task Force (TCATF), visiting and encouraging Tennessee legislators in Washington, D.C. to support the Clean Smokestacks Act, the Clean Power Act, and legislative efforts to clean up haze in the Smokies. The TCATF also coordinated ozone forecasting for metro Nashville together with the American Lung Association, TDEC, and TVA.
- Launched an email news update service — Tennessee Environmental News (T.E.N.) — to provide members with regular up-to-date information about current Tennessee environmental issues and educational opportunities.
- Helped establish an environmental advisory panel to guide the Department of Transportation in its 25-year road building plan.
- Led an effort to urge the governor to reconsider the siting of new power plants in Tennessee.
- Served as a lead advocate to have Tennessees state parks reopened and adequately funded by initiating advocacy strategies such as the “Penny for the Parks” program.
- Represented environmental interests on the TVA Green Group, a coalition of organizations that meets regularly with and provides input to TVA on their programs and policies.
- Contributed to the formation of Health-Track in Tennessee, a national project working to build support for a comprehensive network to track the links between the environment and health by (1) monitoring chronic illnesses community-by-community and (2) identifying potential hazards and exposure to these dangers.
- Organized Tennessee participation in the National Environmental Trusts multi-million dollar television ad campaign to heighten awareness and promote positive citizen action concerning global warming issues.
- Participated in press conferences for the release of the Tennessee Clean Air Task Forces September 2000 report Death, Disease and Dirty Power linking particulate matter emissions from power plants to health effects in people.
- Served as co-host at the Clean Water Summit at the Scarritt Bennett Center and provided workshops for the community on water quality issues.
- Coordinated, in partnership with the National Environmental Trust, the Jackson, TN and Cookeville, TN stops of the “Pollution Solutions Tour” which were highly successful in generating much publicity and public conversation about the value of taking global warming prevention actions.
- Through participation in the Clean Air Task Force and in conjunction with the Southern Environmental Law Center, led a statewide campaign to eliminate the loophole that exempts old power plants from full compliance with the Clean Air Act.
- Co-sponsored a public forum with the Vanderbilt University Center in Molecular Toxicology entitled “Causes of Cancer: Perceptions and Evidence” featuring speakers addressing oncological sources, the National Toxicology Program, and studies of carcinogenicity.
- Supported the efforts of an enterprising the Council member to create a paint recycling center in Memphis, TN.
- Initiated an effort to bring regulation of air toxics to Tennessee by petitioning the state to develop rules for air toxics under the Clean Air Act, resulting in a series of negotiations between the Council and the Tennessee Association of Business (TAB).
- Played a central role in the passage of a law requiring TDEC to develop a master plan for state parks.
- Successfully completed and led 37 organizations in a landmark two-year effort to clean up the Pigeon River on the Tennessee/North Carolina border which was heavily polluted by an upstream Champion International paper mill.
- Organized the Solid Waste Adult Education Task Force and produced the Adult Education Framework which was used in the Train the Trainers workshop at the April 1997 TDEC Solid Waste Conference in Gatlinburg, TN.
- Collaborated successfully with other organizations and agencies in developing a strategic plan for environmental education in Tennessee.
- Launched and served as a lead coordinator of Campaign for a Healthy Environment — a coalition of public health, consumer, and environmental groups formed to increase public awareness of clean air issues and counter a multimillion dollar industry initiative to kill tougher federal clean air standards for ozone and particulate matter.
- Awarded the 1997 Clean Air Award from the American Lung Association for help in the promotion of lung health and the fight against lung disease.
- Served as lead organization and host, together with TDEC, for the State Parks Forum at Cumberland Mountain State Park involving over 100 environmental leaders and resulting in a Mission and Action Steps plan for parks management and prothe Counciltion, and proposed legislation to enact the Action Steps into law.
- Participated in Watershed Work Group to assist Watershed Citizen Councils and helped organize a watershed citizen council forum in the fall.
- Developed and presented a paper at the “Loving Neighbors Across Time” conference on moral obligations to future generations on environmental issues that appeared as a chapter in the assembled Compassion Papers describing the results of the conference.
- Provided consultation in the research and compilation of a paper on residential development in the eight-county Middle Tennessee region that was used in later years as part of the Councils growth management project.
- Served the community in an educational capacity through public presentations around the state, including: by the Vanderbilt Center for Environmental Management Systems; the University of Tennessee, Knoxville Political Science Department; the Air and Waste Management Association Annual Meeting; 2000 Initiative Industry Outreach Seminar; Tennessee Economic Development Conference; the TDEC Solid Waste Assistance Division Staff Retreat; the Tennessee Department of Agriculture non-point source advisory committee; and the TN Recycling Coalition Annual Conference, Chattanooga.
- Served as a member of the 2000 Initiative, a voluntary assemblage of representatives from state agencies, universities, industry, and environmental organizations dedicated improving the quality of Tennessees environment. the Council played a lead role in developing 2000 Initiatives comparative assessment of TRI findings in order both to uncover risks hidden when releases are quantified by volume rather than by relative toxicity or other factors, and to supplement the TRI with important combustion sources and pollutants that were not at the time included in the TRI program.
- Worked with the Environmental Action Fund (EAF), a coalition of environmental organizations, to accomplish several legislative victories, including a bill adding an environmental representative to the Air Pollution Control Board and the Water Quality Control Board, and an amendment to the Solid Waste Act to allow the Council to nominate the environmental representative to the Solid Waste Advisory Committee.
- Awarded the Tennessee Trails Association 1996 TTA Award for “Possessing the Vision for Scotts Gulf Based on the Conservation of Wilderness”.
- Successfully halted a plan to build reservoirs on the Cumberland Plateau — the Sequatchie Valley Pump Storage Project.
- Celebrated 25th Anniversary of the Council with Earth Ball .
- Won largest settlement to date in a federal Clean Water Act citizen suit — $1.125 million — against the Dana Corporation for violations of its water discharge permit involving the discharge of lead into tributaries of the Duck River. The $1.125 million settlement funded the Tennessee Environmental Endowment, a new nonprofit corporation dedicated to reducing pollution into the watersheds into which Dana discharges and reducing lead uptake by fish and wildlife in Tennessee.
- Successfully supported the Council member organization “Coalition STOP” in winning a lawsuit settlement brought against a landfill company in West Tennessee. The $12,000 settlement was used for work on the West Tennessee Tributaries Project.
- Awarded a $4,000 grant from the Nashville Community Foundation to follow up on concerns about solid waste problems in Nashville as articulated in the Nashvilles Agenda planning process.
- Hosted 1995 Environmental Congress, featuring issues sessions on environmental audit privilege and air toxics legislation, TN Solid Waste Management Act reauthorization, takings issues, private property prothe Counciltion and citizen empowerment, forest issues, and growth management.
- Anticipated the dawn of the 21st century by creating the Councils website, now accessible at www.tectn.org.
- Served as a support organization in ACT for Clean Indoor Air — a campaign to urge legislators to support a ban on smoking in all public buildings.
- Sponsored the annual Environmental Congress at the Scarritt-Bennett Center under the theme of Emerging Environmental Issues focusing on: transportation policy and growth management, sustainable agriculture, takings issues, and energy futures in the TVA.
- Provided the Council technical expertise and oversight on mountain air quality issues through participation in the Southern Appalachian Mountain Air Quality Coalition, a gathering of environmental groups who monitor the Southern Appalachian Mountain Initiative (SAMI) which is an eight-state governmental coalition aimed at solving environmental problems in the Appalachians.
- Hosted an environmental leadership conference in cooperation with the Institute for Conservation Leadership and the Division of Community Health Sciences at Meharry Medical College entitled “TOOLS: Leadership & Organizational Development” focusing on developing grassroots organizations, sharpening leadership skills, fundraising, and strengthening community organizing capabilities.
- Brought suit against Harmon International Industries in Hardeman County for violating permit regulations and thus illegally dumping chemicals including xylene, ethylbenzene, lead, and copper into the Hatchie River, resulting in a settlement in which the corporation paid $112,500 to the Tennessee Environmental Endowment and the permit violations ceased.
- Won settlement forcing The Aluminum Company of America (Alcoa) to pay $20,000 to Ijams Nature Center and clean up an old landfill leaking toxic PCBs into a creek feeding the Fort Loudoun Reservoir.
- Won settlement in lawsuit brought by the Council and Good Earth Defense against TDOT concerning the I-26 highway project in Unicoi County, resulting in the establishment of an environmental advisory committee to TDOT, a commitment from TDOT to forego an appeal of a recent TDEC order to improve stream prothe Counciltion measures, and TDOT agreement to consider modifying project design as justified by further study of black bear migration routes in the area.
- Secured passage by Tennessee House of Representatives of House Resolution 36, creating a legislative Study Committee to conduct public hearings on the health declines resulting from toxic pollution.
- Challenged the legality of the states proposed hazardous waste facility siting, leading to the temporary injunction on implementation of the siting rules, media attention to their ineffectiveness, and the establishment of another platform to educate the public on the importance of reducing the generation of all toxic chemical emissions.
- Provided Tennessee communities with training programs on doing “good neighbor agreements” in order to help them negotiate with industrial and commercial facilities whose operations impact the environment and quality of life in local communities.
- Organized press conference to call attention to the negative health effects of pesticide use, focusing on the stories of three citizens made severely ill by pesticide spraying and publicly opposing a bill that would prohibit cities and counties from restricting pesticide use.
- Developed the most wide-spread phone bank in state history in the environmental community to mobilize citizens around the state before critical votes on environmental issues.
- Through successful lobbying efforts, prevented passage of a bill that would block city and county governments from regulating pesticide use.
- Conducted a day-long workshop aboard the Queen of Clarksville riverboat for members of garden clubs in conjunction with the Tennessee Federation of Garden Clubs to provide education on environmental conservation strategies at local, state, and national levels.
- Served over four years as the main advocate for improvement of the states solid waste management, culminating in the passage this year of the states solid waste law limiting the import of out-of-state garbage into Tennessee and establishing waste reduction and recycling as priorities for solid waste management.
- Successfully halted ash leachate discharge from the Nashville Metro incinerator from being discharged into local ponds and the Cumberland River, and instead filtered through the sewage treatment plant.
- Instrumental in making the state of Tennessee institute prothe Counciltive regulations accompanying all Aquatic Resource Alteration Permits.
- Compiled and published Tennessees Groundwater: A Resource At Risk, a study on groundwater quality calling attention to contamination levels and sources in underground water supplies and arguing for a comprehensive plan to prothe Councilt groundwater from leaking waste sites and other contaminants.
- Sponsored the Safe Drinking Water Project (SDWP), a comprehensive drinking water prothe Counciltion program addressing the deterioration of rivers and stream through the enforcement of current water laws and the establishment of a citizens drinking water coalition.
- Served as a lead agency in the creation and activities of the Tennessee Valley Energy Reform Coalition, a gathering of organizations dedicated to developing an alternative energy strategy for the Tennessee Valley including least-cost planning, prothe Counciltion of natural resources and public health, long-term sustainable economy, and better mechanisms for public participation in energy planning.
- Initiated and sponsored the first two highly successful state recycling conferences which each drew over 350 people.
- In honor of the 20th anniversary of the first Earth Day, coordinated Tennessee events for Earth Day 1990 through a partnership with the international organization “Earth Day 1990″ which promoted similar events in 83 countries around the globe.
- Led the effort in the states adoption of stringent solid waste landfill regulations, which ensured greater prothe Counciltion of groundwater.
- Organized the “Tennessee Commercial Recycling Project” — a statewide campaign to encourage commercial efforts at waste reduction, reuse, and recycling by providing business leaders with key information on waste reduction and establishing model programs across the state with on-site assistance and training sessions.
- Hosted “Environmental Awareness Day” at Vanderbilt University to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Council by providing environmental education workshops for adults and activities for children to learn about what they can do to help prothe Councilt the environment.
- Launched the Toxics Prevention Program (TPP) to address Tennessees serious toxic pollution problems by targeting key industries, determining and implementing the most effective strategies for reducing toxic emissions at each facility, and strengthening the toxics coalition.
1970s and 1980s
The early 1970s was a time of extraordinary growth for community-based environmental organizations like the Council that were forming in order to respond to foundational pieces of environmental legislation established by Congress such as the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act. the Council was founded in 1970 by six community groups: the League of Women Voters, the Junior League of Nashville, the Tennessee Lung Association, the Tennessee Conservation League, the Tennessee Federation of Garden Clubs, and the Tennessee Botanical Gardens and Fine Arts Center (Cheekwood). At this time, the organization was truly a “council” — it functioned as an umbrella organization for dozens of member groups, providing coordination and communications among the members. The member groups devoted their resources to lobbying and advocacy, while the Council provided environmental education both for the general public and for legislators drafting legislation to implement the new federal environmental laws.
During the 1970s, the Council successfully grew the organization financially and programmatically. Part of the Councils support came from private membership sources and donors. In addition, the EPA and the Department of Energy supplied the Council with significant grants, including a $100,000 grant from the DOE for education on energy resources and solar power. These contributions allowed the Council to develop its capacities for education and community organizing, and the Council soon became well-known and respected for its workshops, its monthly newsletter, and its reliable, sound advice to regulators. In 1973, the Council hosted the first annual “Intergroup” meeting of concerned citizens and environmentalists, later to be called the “Tennessee Environmental Congress”. This yearly gathering provided workshops on critical state environmental issues and an opportunity to set a statewide agenda for the state government and legislature.
the Council was born at a time when a new branch of environmentalism was emerging in the United States. Traditional environmentalism handed down by great conservationists like John Muir focused on land conservation, forest and parks, and the preservation of wilderness. Yet as air, water, and land pollution problems mounted, new approaches were needed to meet these new challenges. the Council devoted much of its efforts to this new area of environmental work by concentrating its programming on air quality, water quality, hazardous waste reduction, and toxic pollution reduction. It focused on the preservation of local natural spaces such as community natural areas, parks, trails, and rivers. A significant amount of time was devoted to surface mining issues both before and after the Surface Mining Act.
Gradually the Council devoted greater resources to activism. In 1977, the organization initiated a law suit against TVA to force TVA to comply with the federal Clean Air Act. the Council won the suit, forcing TVA to reduce its emission of acid rain-making sulfur dioxide by one million pounds per year. In 1980, the Council led the successful effort to ban lead-acid batteries from land fills and incinerators. These early victories helped shape the direction, mission, and abilities of the organization for years to come, and the Council went on to many more successful endeavors in environmental leadership in Tennessee.
Below are some highlights of the Councils work from its founding through 1990.
1989 – Sponsored public information campaign encouraging citizens to participate in the formation of Tennessee hazardous waste laws.
1989 – Recognized by the Senate of the State of Tennessee for work as a member of the Special Joint Committee on Hazardous and Solid Waste for “dedication, cooperation, intensive work and thoughtful proposals to reduce and control the flow of hazardous waste and solid waste in our society.”
1988 – Launched a recycling project which has helped 80 communities throughout the state establish or improve their existing recycling efforts.
1988 – Lead an effort for wilderness designation for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in collaboration with national environmental organizations, beginning a decade-long partnership to prothe Councilt the Park from development projects.
1987 – Initiated a 4-year period of intense growth for the Council (1987-1990), including twice doubling the organizations budget, quadrupling the number of full-time staff, increasing the scope and number of special projects, developing a strong talent in fundraising, expanding the board, increasing membership, and hosting annual environmental events with significant impact on the general public.
1982 – Began a 10 year effort to protect Tennessees wetlands, resulting in successfully stopping the channelization of over 200 miles of rivers which has resulted in a halting of drainage and thus preserving 90,000 acres of wetlands.
1980 – Led the successful effort to ban lead-acid batteries from landfills and incinerators.
1977 – Initiated a law suit against TVA to force TVA to comply with the federal Clean Air Act. the Council won the suit, forcing TVA to reduce its emission of acid rain-making sulfur dioxide by one million pounds per year.
1973 – Hosted the first annual Intergroup meeting of concerned citizens and environmentalists — later to be called the “Tennessee Environmental Congress” — featuring workshops on critical Tennessee environmental issues, and setting a statewide agenda for state and legislature.
1970 – Tennessee Environmental Council founded as an umbrella environmental organization by six Tennessee groups: the League of Women Voters, the Junior League of Nashville, the Tennessee Lung Association, the Tennessee Conservation League, the Tennessee Federation of Garden Clubs, and the Tennessee Botanical Gardens and Fine Arts (Cheekwood).