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Little River Fest this Saturday

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This Saturday, April 28, The Little River Watershed Association (LRWA) will host its largest cleanup of the year followed by a celebration at River John's Island, in Maryville with food, music and fun. The purpose of this annual event is to raise awareness about the importance of the Little River's water quality and to encourage our community to help protect the Little River from degradation.

Just in case you ain't from around these here parts, the Little River begins in the Clingman's Dome area of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and winds through Townsend, Maryville, Alcoa, and Rockford, before flowing into the Tennessee River. This watershed is home to a diverse aquatic population of fish and bugs, as well as plants and animals. It even includes some endangered species, such as the dustytail darter fish.

A source of drinking water for over 85,000 residents in Blount County, the Little River has recently been classified as a “threatened stream” by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. This classification change is a result of deteriorating water quality primarily in the lower area of the stream.

The Little River is a vital support system for our community. Most of us can't wait to head to the river to go swimming, tubing, fishing, kayaking, and camping. It supplies our energy and drinking water. It's a source of educational and scientific research. And the tourist traffic helps boost our local economy, especially in Townsend.

Last year, the LRWA, with the help of lots of dedicated volunteers, pulled approximately 1,100 pounds of trash out of the Little River.

The Association is encouraging everyone in our community to participate, especially those with canoes and kayaks who can help pull out garbage which is not accessible from the river bank.

Check-in for volunteers is 8:00-10:00 am at the Smoky Mountain Heritage Center in Townsend. Morning volunteers even get a free ticket for the big party afterward at River John's Island from 4:00 to 7:00 pm.

The Little River is a part of our lives, and we owe it to ourselves and our entire community, to help keep it healthy.

For more information, call Little River Watershed Association at 980-2130, or e-mail snaildarter@littleriverwatershed.org Note: In the event of heavy rains or high waters, the event will be canceled.

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