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Volunteers help clean up Norris Watershed

  • Norris Boy Scout Troop 73 Assistant Scoutmaster Ricky Williams and three scouts from the troop help load a discarded couch onto Williams’ pickup truck off Upper Clear Creek Road during last Saturday’s Norris Watershed Cleanup event. The scouts are, from left, Liam Curnutt, Wyatt Conner, and Phillip Hamner. - G. Chambers Williams III

  • These volunteers, including some Boy Scouts from Norris Troop 73, turned out Saturday morning on Lower Clear Creek Road for the annua Norris Watershed Cleanup event. - G. Chambers Williams III

About 22 Boy Scouts and other volunteers turned out last Saturday for the annual Norris Watershed Cleanup event, during which more than 20 bags of trash – and a discarded couch – were collected in the scenic area managed by the city of Norris.

“It was a very good turnout,” said Dennis Yankee, a member of the Norris Watershed Commission and assistant scoutmaster of Norris Boy Scout Troop 73, which had eight of its scouts and some of its adult leaders on hand for the morning’s event.

The work was concentrated mostly on the open public roadways through the 2,200-acre preserve, rather than on the dirt roads inside the gates, most of which have been locked and made inaccessible to motor vehicles since the coronavirus pandemic began in March 2020.

Scouts and adult volunteers collected trash in the Reservoir Hill overlook and trail areas, Upper and Lower Clear Creek roads, and some of the more-accessible hiking trails.

The couch, discarded by someone apparently too lazy to drive it a couple of miles away to dispose of properly at the county convenience center off Norris Freeway, was found on a dirt road just off Upper Clear Creek Road. It was the largest item the volunteers picked up.

Volunteers used grabber tools to pick up the trash – such as beer cans and other items litterbugs had thrown out of their vehicles – and put it into the provided black plastic trash bags. Those were left along the sides of the roads, where other volunteers picked them up with trucks to take to the county landfill.

“We collected about two pickup truck loads,” Yankee said Monday.

Adult volunteers were joined by the scouts from the Norris Religious Fellowship troop, said Scoutmaster Dennis Curtin.

“It all went really well,” Curtin said.

The volunteers ended the morning’s work with a pizza lunch at the Lions Club Pavilion in Norris. The Norris Watershed Commission paid for the pizza, Hendry said.

The Tennessee Valley Authority transferred the mostly wooded watershed land to the city of Norris in 1953. It’s managed by the Watershed Commission, whose members are appointed by the Norris City Council.

Joe Seeman, a retired Tennessee Valley Authority forester who now volunteers to help with a variety of activities and issues in the watershed, said the annual cleanup event has been going on for at least 25 years.

“It was part of my job for a time,” he said. “TVA transferred the watershed land to the city in 1953, and the memorandum of understanding was that TVA would provide forestry expertise in exchange for using it for research and planting.

“There always was a TVA forester assigned to the watershed until they disbanded the forestry program about 1994. I’ve been a volunteer forester there since then, and I retired from TVA in 2008.”

The Norris Municipal Watershed Board manages the mostly wooded property with the following priorities, the city’s website says: water quality, natural resource management and recreational opportunities.

Rules for use of the trails and roads within the watershed may be found at