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Conservation Program

Conservation Updates | Legislator Scorecard | Tread Lightly

TSRA was founded on September 15, 1966 to “preserve, protect and restore the scenic, free-flowing rivers of our State.”  

TSRA founders listed five objectives:

  • To encourage action that would reverse river impairment.
  • To promote the quality of recreational use of rivers.
  • To cooperate with other river conservation groups.
  • To cooperate with government agencies in the protection of river environments.
One of the group’s first efforts was to help pass the Tennessee Scenic Rivers Act of 1968, which mandated state government protection of an initial ten rivers that were designated “scenic.”   These first ten rivers were: Blackburn Fork, Buffalo, Collins, Conasauga, French Broad, Harpeth, Hiwassee, Roaring River, Spring Creek and Tuckahoe Creek. Since 1968, TSRA has worked to have five additional rivers designated for “scenic” protection. They are the Clinch, Duck, Hatchie, Obed and Soak Creek.  Learn more about TN Scenic Rivers and their history here.

TSRA conservation successes over the years:  

  • 1968 - Together with TCWP, TSRA campaigned hard for state and national scenic rivers legislation. Tennessee's Scenic Rivers Act of 1968 was the first such comprehensive act in the nation.

  • 1980’s – TSRA worked to halt the construction of the dam being built on the Duck River and helped to have 37 miles protected by the Scenic Rivers Act.
  • 1999 – TSRA created DROP (Duck-River Opportunities Project) to monitor & improve the water quality of the Duck River and its tributaries which was funded by the Duck River Protection Endowment.
  • 1998 to 2005 – TSRA actively worked to stop treated sewage discharge in Spencer, TN into a small stream that ran through Rumbling Falls Cave onto on to Fall Creek Falls State Park.
  • 2009 – TSRA successfully petitioned to get the TN Scenic Rivers Administrator Position staffed and funded.
  • 2014-2019 - In November 2014, on behalf of the Tennessee Clean Water Network (TCWN) and Tennessee Scenic Rivers Association (TSRA), The Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) sent TVA a 60-day notice letter, which is required before bringing suit under the federal Clean Water Act. The notice letter alleged that TVA had been violating environmental protection laws for decades at its coal-fired Gallatin Fossil Plant by polluting groundwater as well as the Cumberland River and Old Hickory Lake from leaking, unlined coal ash pits. This letter prompted state officials, in January 2015, to sue TVA for violations of state environmental laws. SELC intervened in the case on behalf of TCWN and TSRA. June of 2019 “The settlement reached is a prime example of the difference we can make as citizen advocates to protect our state’s waterways, but there is more work to be done,” said Gary Weatherford, President of the Board of Directors for TSRA. “We intend to continue to hold TVA responsible as it pursues the appropriate actions needed to safely remove this pollution.”
  • Mid 90’s and 2010 – TSRA fought to stop pollution of the Pigeon River by Champion (later named Evergreen) paper mill in Canton, NC.

Funding provided by TSRA over the years:

  • Contributed over $30,000 from 2008 to 2022 to the Swan Conservation Trust to protect the head waters of the Big Swan Creek Watershed in Lewis County.
  • Contributed over $35,000 to Tennessee Parks and Greenways for land acquisitions including Rock Island, Virgin Falls, Cummins Falls, Scott’s Gulf, Sequatchie Headwaters and Happy Hollow near the Duck River in Hickman County.
  • Contributed to the preservation project at Stillhouse Hollow Falls in Maury County and to Land Trust of Tennessee for Webb Farm on the banks of the Hiwassee River.

Tennessee Scenic Rivers Association is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, #58-1746179.

P.O. Box 159041 Nashville, Tennessee 37215-9041

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