OSMRE / VISTA Team Projects
Upper Tennessee Roundtable
OSMRE / VISTA: Lillian Pickens
Supervisor: Carol Doss
Address: 330 Cummings Street, P.O. Box 2359, Abingdon, Virginia 24212
County: Washington, Lee, Tazewell
Voice Telephone: 276-628-1600
Web site: www.uppertnriver.org
Congressional District: 9th
Bureau: Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE)
Upper Tennessee River Roundtable’s mission: to achieve clean water throughout the watershed with the involvement of citizens in planning, education, coordinating, attracting funding, and serving as an advocate for our water resources.
About the Surrounding Community
The communities served by Upper Tennessee Roundtable suffer from environmental degradation as a result of coal mining, coal slurry and chemical spills, agriculture, and a general lack of respect for public lands. Over time these variables have led to a decline in stream health. Ironically, this same area is situated in a hotspot of biodiversity with many unique species. Coal slurry and chemical spills affect federally-listed endangered freshwater mussels, fish, and other aquatic organisms. Of the residents living in the communities served by Upper Tennessee Roundtable, 15.57% live below the national poverty level and have a per capita income 22.58% below the national level.
The project focuses on education and outreach to raise awareness about environmental issues and increase citizen involvement in community projects. To raise awareness of the biodiversity in the watershed and to teach how each person can help prevent pollution, the OSMRE/VISTA is working to develop education resources such as “Pearly Friends,” an education theatrical performance. The OSMRE/VISTA also participates in various initiatives to incorporate environmental concerns into education by facilitating a Project Learning Tree workshop in Lee County, developing educational signs to be posted at the proposed Pennington Gap Riverwalk site, and assisting with various environmental education symposia. The project also fosters environmental stewardship by researching watershed concerns; facilitating water quality monitoring; supporting environmental education outreach; and developing strategic watershed-based planning critical to future funding, project development, and implementation.