A Keep America Beautiful/Lowe’s grant is assisting Upper Tennessee River Roundtable and Keep Southwest Virginia Beautiful with development of Stone Creek Outdoor Classroom and Community Park in Lee County. Keep Southwest Virginia Beautiful received a $20,000 Lowe’s/KAB grant. This funding is added to the $196,000 previously awarded to Upper Tennessee River Roundtable from other sources for the project, which is located on a former coal transfer station site near St. Charles.
The Keep America Beautiful/Lowe’s grant is paying for fencing, walking trail, signs, trash and ash receptacles, plants and flowers. Keep Southwest Virginia Beautiful and Upper Tennessee River Roundtable are partnering with the Lowe’s store in Abingdon on this project. AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps River 6 Team assisted with the project for two weeks along with several community volunteers. Various agency personnel also have assisted with several work days at the site.
The outdoor classroom and community park site is located adjacent to Straight Creek near St. Charles in the Stone Creek community. Upper Tennessee River Roundtable initially received a $166,000 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service grant for land acquisition, reclamation, stream restoration and outdoor classroom development. The Roundtable purchased the land and transferred ownership to Lee County with the assistance of Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy and Daniel Boone Soil and Water Conservation District. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service funds came from a settlement established after a toxic spill into a tributary to the Powell River. Straight Creek is also a tributary to the Powell River and is home to endangered species. This region is considered to be a hotspot of biodiversity.
Next steps involved restoring the stream and stabilizing the stream bank, which took place in August and September. Additional grant assistance for this phase was provided by Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation and Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and another grant from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Upper Tennessee River Roundtable also secured grants from Appalachian Coal Country Team Reforestation Project and LG&E KU Plant for the Planet to buy trees. Pizza Inn of Abingdon donated more than a case of pizza boxes that were used for molds to create stepping stones during community workshops. Trex (R) donated two recycled park benches that have been installed on stepping stones that were created for the site.
The Roundtable is a nonprofit watershed organization focusing on pollution prevention and improvement projects for the Clinch, Powell and Holston rivers in Southwest Virginia, all part of the Upper Tennessee River drainage. Keep Southwest Virginia Beautiful is the largest regional nonprofit affiliate of Keep America Beautiful and includes nine counties and two cities also working in the Upper Tennessee drainage as well as the Big Sandy River Basin.
For more information, contact Upper Tennessee River Roundtable and Keep Southwest Virginia Beautiful at 276-628-1600.