Premier events engage hundreds of volunteers to clean up the Tennessee River as part of the Keep America Beautiful® Great American Cleanup®


Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful (KTNRB) will continue its “Tennessee River Grand Slam Cleanup” in Knoxville, Tennessee on its third installment of the four-part cleanup campaign. The four-week long initiative is engaging hundreds of volunteers along more than 400 miles of the 652-mile Tennessee River.


This particular cleanup in Knoxville is supporting the 30th annual Ijams River Rescue, held Saturday, April 6, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Ijams River Rescue averages about 600 volunteers each year who clean dozens of sites along the river and its tributaries across Knox County and parts of Loudon and Blount counties.


KTNRB has partnered with Living Lands & Waters for the Grand Slam Cleanup to take volunteers out on 30-foot-long steel plate boats to remove trash from the water and shorelines. Joining on the boats will be the Knoxville Volunteer Rotary Club and the teens they mentor in the Austin-East Interact Club.


The cleanups are offering timely relief to the Tennessee Valley, which was hit with severe flooding this February – the wettest February ever recorded in the region. Keep America Beautiful awarded a $10,000 Community Restoration and Resiliency Fund grant to KTNRB to offer cleanup relief following February’s floods.


Helen Lowman, President and CEO, Keep America Beautiful, helped to clean the river at the initial Grand Slam Cleanup events in Pickwick Lake, Mississippi and The Shoals, Alabama in March. At the first two cleanups, 168 volunteers removed 9,000 pounds of trash.


This Tennessee River Grand Slam Cleanup is part of a nationwide effort known as the Great American Cleanup®, the signature program of the Keep America Beautiful, the nation’s largest community improvement nonprofit organization. The full release can be found here.


The cleanup will also catalog the types of litter gathered after a 2017 study by German professor Dr. Andreas Fath found that the Tennessee River was one of the most plastic-littered rivers in the world.


At 7 p.m. on Friday, April 5, Dan Breidenstein of Living Lands & Waters will speak at Ijams Nature

Center as part of Ijams’ Take Action! conservation series. Breidenstein will discuss solutions for the plastic crisis in our waterways and share his experience of dedicating his career to live on a barge in order to clean North American rivers. Living Lands & Waters is a national nonprofit that has removed 10 million pounds of trash from North American rivers to date. Admission to the lecture event is free. Refreshments, including beer, will be available for purchase.




Friday, April 5 (7 – 8:30 p.m.) Ijams Take Action! An Evening With Living Lands and Waters’ Dan Breidenstein at Ijams Nature Center’s Visitor Center, 2915 Island Home Ave.


Saturday, April 6 (10 a.m. – 2 p.m.) 30th annual Ijams River Rescue – To cover Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful’s teams in the Living Lands & Waters boats, please contact Kathleen Gibi at 865-386-3926. Boats will be putting in at two locations at 10 a.m.:


  • TVA boat ramp off of Asheville Highway – 5765-6171 Asheville Hwy
  • Louisville, TN boat ramp – 3267 Cox Rd, Louisville, TN 37777