During these times, outdoor recreation has seen an influx of folks who aren’t recreating responsibly. Overcrowding in areas like Laurel Falls of the Cherokee National Forest, Dolly Sods in West Virginia, and Max Patch along the Appalachian Trail has contributed to an increase in pollution and trail erosion. Follow along as we feature local leaders for a litter-free Tennessee and ways you can help reduce your footprint on our lands.
If we don’t take care of our trails, we begin to see more camping and hiking closures taking effect. An example of this is Clark’s Creek in Unicoi County, TN. After overcrowding in the area and a rise in trash pollution, Clark’s Creek remains closed to overnight camping due to bear traffic. When visitors do not practice Leave No Trace ethics and leave their trash behind, this draws in the black bear population towards highly visited hiking areas like Sill Branch Falls.
In order to keep outdoor recreation around for future generations and activities, we need you to get involved!
Meet: Alaina Wood
Alaina Wood, Environmental Planner at First Tennessee Development District, has been volunteering in her community since high school. She started participating in litter clean-ups with Keep Tennessee Beautiful and is now the Executive Director of Keep Jonesborough Beautiful.
Presently, Alaina plays a huge role in organizing clean-ups around Northeast Tennessee. She focuses on solid waste management and increasing landfill diversion by addressing illegal dumping, helping coordinate where illegal dump sites are, and scheduling dumpsters on site while adhering to proper disposal of tires.
Recently, Alaina worked with Channing Taylor to organize the removal of several tires from the local Buffalo Mountain Park in Johnson City, Tenn.
How Alaina is Making a Difference:
How are YOU currently protecting the lands you recreate?
Anytime I am in the outdoors, I practice the principles of Leave No Trace. I work with my job to protect areas through park projects and solid waste management and utilize social media to spread the word about clean-ups and events.
How can folks get involved right NOW?
Whenever they see something that is out of place in nature, they need to say something and do something. There is a Litter and Dump Site Reporting Tool where citizens can report what county the litter is in, where the litter is at, and whether it is on land, water, or private property. You can pinpoint exactly where the litter is through a mapping tool and describe it as well as upload photos.
In (3) words, describe your PASSION for the Great American Outdoors.
What TIP would you recommend to visitors of our state & national parks when practicing Leave No Trace ethics?
Always have gloves and a trashbag with you, because you never know what you’re going to find!
Will you join us with the Northeast Tennessee Tourism Association in January 2021 for a clean-up day and help us protect our trails?
YES! And I will provide whatever help you need with coordinating and organizing!
If you are looking for an activity to get outside and off the couch while still social distancing during the pandemic, put your volunteer shoes on and head to the hills! We take pride in our beautiful mountain scenery in Northeast Tennessee and want to protect it for generations to come. We need YOU to join us and local leaders for a litter-free Tennessee!