An article by:

Paul Kingsbury

Release date:

08/21/17

12:23 pm

River Conservation Can Get Messy

Today, of course, the big news is the total solar eclipse that begins around noon in the Central time zone. Andreas’s plan is to keep swimming during the eclipse, while the crew will use eclipse shades to view the spectacular phenomenon. Meanwhile Andreas will keep pushing northward. Go to the team Facebook page later today to view the latest photos from Andreas’s eclipse experience.

I wanted to take a moment to talk about a conservation project that Andreas and the team passed by on Saturday as Andreas was nearing Savannah. No doubt they noticed the barge and power shovel machine working along the river as Andreas swam past.

Erosion area.

A “before” photo of the eroded area the The Nature Conservancy is fixing on the Tennessee River.

On the Tennessee River, just south of Savannah, there is a stretch of riverbank on the east bank that is severely eroded. As a result, the riverbank has been collapsing and dumping sediment into the river in that area. It has been not only unsightly, but also the excess sediment is harmful to aquatic life.

The Nature Conservancy stepped in this month, and we have employed contractors to “stabilize” the riverbank, meaning halt the erosion. We’re doing it first by covering the area with large pieces of rock, known as “rip rap,” which will provide a hard barrier to stop the erosion. Then we’ll smooth out the bank area and put in any necessary structures and plantings on top of the bank to halt further erosion.

Installing rip rap.

Installing “rip rap” stones to stabilize the eroded bank area.

The project is coming along.

Grading.

Grading the top of the riverbank.

The view on Aug. 17. It’s looking good!

It’s a very industrial-looking process, as you can see from the photos here. Sometimes, conservation organizations like The Nature Conservancy have to use heavy machinery and industry to help restore and heal nature. Sometimes things have to get a little messy before they get better.

But when the work is all done, the river will flow cleaner at this spot, and the riverbank’s collapse will be halted. And that’s a good thing for people and nature.

TenneSwim