Maryville College is less than 20 miles from the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. These old mountains are full of beauty, fun and are so popular that more than 11 million people visit each year.
The beautiful hills, valleys, streams, falls, and rivers are home to old growth deciduous forests and more biodiversity than any other part of America. Another reason it is so beautiful is the constant and well thought out maintenance provided by the U.S. Parks and Recreations Department.
The partial Government shutdown affected the park’s budget. Many operations ground to a halt including the constant job of picking up litter. Maryville College services stepped up to help. On Jan. 27, 22 students and alumni showed up ready to get their hands dirty.
“I like giving back,” said Nicholas Clifton, a freshman majoring in history and teaching. “With the government shutdown, there’s no one else to do it.”
The group armed with trash grabbers and wearing safety vests fanned out looking for trash to remove. They cleaned both sides of the roads where the Little River flows out of the park. Others combed the banks of the river itself.
Most of the items picked up were small like cigarette butts, lighters, gum wrappers and such. They did get some larger items like beverage cans and bottles. The “winner” for most unusual trash was someone’s flip flop sandal.
“The park has so much diversity, it’s a national treasure,” said Taylor Williams, a senior in biology. “Unlike most national parks, this one is free. It’s in our hands to help take care of it.”
“I volunteered because I’m aspiring to be an environmental engineer, but I don’t have to wait to help,” said KelIy Hernandez, a freshman majoring in engineering. “I want to do something for nature now.”
Together the volunteers made an impact. In those few hours they removed bags full of litter. Everyone reading this article can make a difference as an individual too. Whenever you’re enjoying the great outdoors, be sure to not only ‘leave no trace’ but also bring a bag to pick up the trace that others may have left behind.
New TWRA App Available:
The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has launched a new Smartphone App: “TWRA on the Go.” It’s a convenient way to learn about hunting, fishing, boating, and wildlife opportunities near campus. Check it out at the TWRA website.
TWRA is loading the rivers with trout:
Truck-loads of farm raised rainbow trout are being poured into area streams and rivers as part of TWRA’s winter trout stocking program. The stocking is scheduled to continue through March.
Many of these streams are less than an hour’s drive from Maryville College, and you don’t need any fancy expensive gear to catch trout. A spinning rod, the right size tackle, and some power bait, available at just about every place that sells fishing equipment, is about all you need. These fish are not picky, so they’re great for first-time anglers. You’ll need a fishing license and a trout license. They’ll average about 10 inches, and the daily limit is seven.
Check the TWRA website for times and locations of stocking. Be sure to review all the rules to stay within the law.