News: Corps seeks public input for Duck River Watershed Assessment
Story by Leon Roberts
SHELBYVILLE, Tenn. – Several hundred “Don’t Muck the Duck” volunteers met at River Bottom Park this morning before moving out to clean up trash and debris from the Duck River in Bedford County. It was the perfect gathering for several U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District employees seeking input for an ongoing Duck River Watershed Assessment.
Ramune Morales, project manager, and Craig Carrington, chief of the Nashville District Planning Branch Plan Formulation Section, educated volunteers about the assessment, collected input cards, and shared how the public could submit their ideas online, which could include the identification of problem areas in the watershed needing attention and possible improvements as well for both the Duck and Buffalo Rivers.
Morales said that people who care for the environment enough to give of their own free time and clean up the river definitely have a vested interest in sharing their first-hand perspective on the condition of the watershed, which is why the Corps jumped at the chance to get input from the people that volunteer to protect the Duck River ecosystem for future generations.
“When you identify problems, you also help us identify programs and potential organizations or communities that can implement them,” Morales said. "And when everyone implements what is suggested in the assessment, you reach the main goal. You improve the watershed."
Wayne Bomar, a resident of Shelbyville, Tenn., organized the Duck River cleanup 17 years ago with his Sunday school class. The event has evolved to where volunteers clean the entire 56 miles of shoreline in Bedford County and extract as much as 12 tons of trash each year.
Bomar said the Duck River Watershed Assessment being conducted by the Corps is extremely important to the health of the river and its environment, and he encourages everyone that cares about the Duck River to participate.
“We want everyone’s opinion,” Bomar said about the assessment. “It’s our job to keep it clean and to keep it healthy because every major city in this country is built on water supply. Water is still critical for everything we do.”
During the cleanup, several volunteers also weighed in on why they help protect the Duck River.
Donna Thomas, a resident of Shelbyville, Tenn., said the annual cleanup raises her awareness and thinks that for people who routinely use and enjoy the Duck River, providing the Corps input will serve to protect this valuable community resource.
Alan Grant, Bedford County Rescue, added that the Duck River is a water source for communities, so preserving the health of the stream is vital to future generations. That’s also why he thinks it’s a good thing to share ideas and comments with the Corps.
“If we don’t take care of it nobody else will take care of it,” Grant stressed. “It’s important to let everybody know what they can do to help. I may see something that you don’t see. Somebody else might see something else that I don’t see.”
In looking at the health of the Duck River, the Corps plans to look at how rapid urban development, land use changes, incompatible agricultural practices, wastewater management, water supply practices, and resource extraction activities affect the watershed.
The Duck River watershed encompasses 3,500 square miles of south central Tennessee including portions of Bedford, Coffee, Dickson, Hickman, Humphreys, Lawrence, Lewis, Marshall, Maury, Perry, Williamson and Wayne Counties. It originates near the town of Manchester in Coffee County and meanders for approximately 270 miles across twelve counties before emptying into the Tennessee River in Humphreys County. More than 250,000 middle Tennessee residents rely on the Duck River as their sole source of water.
The Duck River is biologically diverse and has a variety of freshwater animal life. Its basin provides habitat for 48 species listed as federally endangered, threatened, candidate or species of concern. The list includes some of the extremely rare freshwater mussels.
The Tennessee Duck River Development Agency, Nature Conservancy, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation and Buffalo/Duck River Resource Conservation and Development Council are partnering with the Nashville District on the Duck River Watershed Assessment.
Stakeholder involvement is needed to identify problems and opportunities for improvement. The Duck River Watershed Assessment is expected to be completed in fiscal year 2015.
(The public can provide input to the watershed assessment online at http://www.lrn.usace.army.mil/Missions/CurrentProjects/Investigation/DuckRiverWatershedAssessment.aspx. For more news, updates and information follow the Nashville District on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/nashvillecorps and on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/nashvillecorps)