West Fork Red River
The yellow line in the map below represents the adopted section of the West Fork of the Red River. The purple boundary in the map below outlines this segment's watershed. When it rains, water that falls within this boundary eventually finds its way to the waterway. The quality of water in the waterway is directly connected to the condition of the land within this purple drainage boundary.
Any stewardship activities you do within these purple watershed boundaries will improve the condition of your waterway.
Information on this page was compiled using resources from iCreek.
In a watershed with increasing development pressure, stewards like you are a valuable resource for your community. The Center for Watershed Protection has found that watershed's with over 10% impervious surface (e.g. parking lots, roads, buildings, etc.) experience water quality impacts. In addition, impervious surfaces cause flooding.
Conversely, forested and vegetated areas of your watershed provide valuable services as "green infrastructure." They filter pollutants and act as a sponge, soaking up rainwater, rather than sending it rushing into your waterway, where increased velocity and volume can cause erosion and flooding. Green infrastructure is most beneficial along a waterway's banks (100' or more) and on steep slopes.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
There are many things you can do to help your waterway. We've got some ideas and resources below, but don't be limited to these alone. If you've got questions or ideas for other activities, feel free to call the Cumberland River Compact at 615-837-1151.
Schedule a walk/cleanup.
There's no better way to get to know your waterway, than by visiting it in person. Whether your wading, paddling, or walking alongside it, you'll end up with a much better sense of where it's healthy and where it's hurting if you pay it a visit. Consider combining a cleanup with a scouting effort. While your picking up trash, photograph or record the locations of destabilized banks, needed streamside vegetation, invasive species, dams, or other potential water quality concerns. Contact your local government. Often they are willing to pick up and dispose of trash once cleanups are finished. Resources include:
Allow for natural growth near waterways in the watershed.
Does anyone in your group live or work next to a waterway in the watershed? If so, a no mow zone on that waterway's banks (any amount is great and 35′ to 100′ is ideal) would benefit water quality and mitigate downstream flooding. Consider working with your group to plant native trees, bushes, and ground-cover in this "buffer" area or simply allow natural and native plant growth in this area. Natives benefit the native ecosystem and require less watering and fertilizer. This vegetation will filter pollutants before they reach your adopted waterway and provide other water quality benefits that far exceed those of a mowed lawn.
If you can't do a planting, consider distributing free trees and educational information to the public somewhere in your adopted segment's watershed. Resources include:
- Free Trees - Cumberland River Compact (Contact firstname.lastname@example.org / 615-837-1151)
- Free Trees for TEC's Statewide 250K Tree Day - TN Environmental Council (615.248.6500)
- Purchase Native Wildflower/Grass Alternatives to Mowed Grass - Roundstone Native Seed and/or Seedland
- Tennessee Aquatic Stream Clean Up and Riparian Tree Grant (Scroll to bottom of linked page for more info) - TN Wildlife Resources Agency
- General Guidelines for Volunteer Based Riparian Buffer Plantings - TN Environmental Council
- Improving Stream Channels With Live Staking - UT Extension
- Tennessee Urban Riparian Buffer Handbook - TN Dept. of Agriculture
- Landscaping with Native Plants in Middle TN - TN Wildlife Resources Agency
- Native Plants for TN - UT Extension
This stewardship activity will prevent pollutants from reaching your waterway, restore habitat, reduce erosion, and mitigate the impacts of flooding.
Plant a rain garden.
If you know a landowner in the watershed who is willing to install a rain garden on their property, this installation will filter and infiltrate stormwater that flows across their yard. Plant natives which require less water and fertilizer.
If you don't have a place where you can plant a garden, consider passing out rain garden resources to the public somewhere in the watershed. Resources include:
- Rain Gardens - A Resource Guide - Cumberland River Compact and Metro Nashville
- TN Native Rain Garden Plants - UT Extension
- Rain Gardens for Tennessee - UT Extension
- Rain Gardens Educator's Toolkit, Rain Gardens for Tennessee Site Summary, and Rain Garden Facts and Tips - UT Extension
This stewardship activity will prevent pollutants from reaching your waterway, reduce erosion, and mitigate the impacts of flooding.
Improve Access to the River
A surefire way to get the community to care about your waterway is to improve access to it. Cleaning up trash at access points or along greenways near the river will help others enjoy the resource. Groups in the region may be able to work with you to build a public access point if there is an appropriate site for one.
- Supplies (trash bags and gloves) for cleanups - Cumberland River Compact (Contact email@example.com / 615-837-1151)
- Public access builds - TN Scenic Rivers Association
Pick up after pets.
Consider starting a pet education campaign in your watershed and/or distributing biodegradable pet waste bags. Pathogens are not a problem in your section of river, but they are a problem downstream in West Fork. So, reducing pathogen pollution in your section will reduce pathogen pollution downstream. Resources include:
- Free Biodegradable Pet Waste Bags - Cumberland River Compact (615-837-1151)
- Many local pet stores sell biodegradable pet waste bags. Online options include: Earth Rated Green Dog Poop Bags; Pogi’s Earth Friendly Poop Bags; BioBag Dog; Flush Puppies Doodie Bags.
- Pet Waste Education Campaign - How-to-Guide
This stewardship activity will prevent pollutants from impacting your river.
Reduce paved/impervious surfaces.
Impervious or impermeable surfaces, like pavement, contribute significantly to polluted stormwater runoff and alter stream flow habitat. If you or someone you know has excess pavement that could be removed, consider a de-paving project with the Compact. Resources include:
- De-paving Work - Cumberland River Compact (Call 615-837-1151)
- Rain Barrel Sales - Cumberland River Compact
- Rain Barrels Make Good Sense - UT Extension
This stewardship activity will prevent pollutants from reaching your river, restore in-stream habitat (by reducing flow velocity), reduce erosion, and mitigate the impacts of flooding.
Limit fertilizer and pesticide use.
Only use fertilizers and pesticides when it's absolutely necessary. Follow application directions, and use only in recommended amounts according to the needs of your soil. Do not apply before rainfall. Nutrients pollution (caused by over or improper fertilization) is not a problem in your section of river, but it is a problem downstream in West Fork. So, reducing pathogen pollution in your section will reduce pathogen pollution downstream.
And/or consider passing out free soil sampling kits and educational materials somewhere popular or public in the watershed.
- Soil Test to Determine Fertilizer Needs of Your Soil - University of Tennessee Soil, Plant, and Pest Center
- How to Soil Sample a Lawn or Garden - UT Extension
- Nutrient Outreach and Educational Materials - EPA
- UT Municipal Technical Advisory Service provides a number of related educational resources including Lawn and Garden Fertilizers, Lawn Watering, and Managing Leaves and Yard Trimmings.
- Lawn & Garden Pesticide Use - UT Extension
- Pest Control Alternatives and Best Practices - TN Department of Environment and Conservation
This stewardship activity will prevent pollutants from impacting your river.
Remove unused dams or other human made river obstructions.
If you have an antiquated or unneeded dam on your property, contact the Cumberland River Compact and/or The Nature Conservancy of Tennessee to discuss the feasibility of removing it. Walk the stream and inventory the location of any dams or obstructions, and let the Compact know so we can add these to our database or potential removal projects. Resources Include:
- Dam Removal Work - Cumberland River Compact - Call 615-837-1151
- Dam Removal Work - The Nature Conservancy of Tennessee - Call 615-383-9909
- How Dams Damage Rivers and How Dams are Removed - American Rivers
This stewardship activity will prevent pollutants from building up in your river, will restore habitat, and will mitigate the impacts of flooding.
Support public funding of water treatment plants and sewer infrastructure. Report sewer leakages and other water quality concerns.
Water related infrastructure is expensive and obtaining funding for necessary sewer and water treatment improvements is often a challenge for communities. However, public dollars are critical to our water quality and public health. Support your community's efforts to properly maintain it's water related infrastructure. Resources include:
- Sewer Line Rehabilitation Program - City of Clarksville
- America's Infrastructure Report Card - American Society of Civil Engineers
- How Sewage Pollution Ends Up in Rivers - American Rivers
- Greening Water Infrastructure - American Rivers
- Report a Water Pollution Concern - TN Department of Environment and Conservation, US EPA
This stewardship activity will prevent pollutants from reaching your river.
Organize with others in your community. Make your voices heard and your votes count.
Participate in community planning efforts and advocate for relevant measures that improve or protect water quality. Write to your elected official or to the media and let them know this is a concern or invite them to speak about the impairment with your home-owners association. When elections come up, vote for candidates who will address the problem and hold them accountable to their promises. Support local watershed / environmental associations. Resources include:
- Advocacy Toolkit - TN Environmental Council
- Find Your Legislators - Federal Legislators; State Legislators; Local Legislators
- Citizen Action Guide to Watershed Assessment and Restoration - TN Environmental Council
- Area watershed associations include the Cumberland River Compact.
Spread the word.
Do your neighbors, family, or roommates know about what's going on in your river? Now that you know how to be an effective steward, enlist the help of others in your neighborhood. Share iCreek or resources within it with your neighbors and encourage them to join the effort to protect your waterway.