I did my part to make Blount County Beautiful in April just as many individuals and organizations did in celebration of PALS (People Against a Littered State) statewide trash pickup month. I picked up trash at the Crooked Shoal Bridge near Locust Fork and Swann Covered Bridge in Cleveland. Like-minded individuals picked up at other popular gathering spots such as Mardis Mill Falls and Taylor Ford. Just a couple of hours each month picking up litter can make a big difference in the way our county looks to out-of-county visitors. It made me proud to contribute to our county’s wellbeing. BUT, my trash cleanup in April made me aware of another problem we have at popular local gathering places: a high volume of traffic. Can a place be “loved too much”?
Some of our local gathering places such as Swann Bridge are actually designated a “park” by default because people visit so regularly. A “default” park is property lending itself to recreation. What I noticed at both places was clear evidence of a lack of consideration for the land. Not only was there trash, but there was evidence of high traffic not from feet, but from vehicles causing big mud puddles and ruts on access roads. Some of the holes and ruts were so deep a car would be hard-pressed to make it through without getting stuck there. I saw newly made tracks into the woods where there was not a road.
Our sights of interest need to be cared for by the people that live in Blount County. Since the many gathering places are not parks managed by a community or county, it is up to us to take care of these wonderful places. Just as was discussed in the column last month, WE need to do our individual part to make Blount County beautiful. It’s challenging for one person to adopt a mile, adopt a stream or adopt an area, but much easier for a community, organization, or business. I want you to think about that for moment. Any ideas? An organization… business? Adopting an area not only would help keep the place clean, but the regular visits by caring citizens would discourage abuse of the land.
I love Blount County and am proud to call it home. I love taking visitors to places of interest in the county, especially the covered bridges and the newly built Scenic Overlook Park. Climbing the fire tower at Palisades Park on a clear day, a person can see for miles and miles what a wonderful place we call home. BUT, when miles and miles of vision give way to a closer look, a visitor may see an ugly side of my home. Sad.
Let us do our part. Let’s help keep all our places of interest presentable just as you would your home when “mama-nnem” are coming over for Thanksgiving dinner. Let’s make Blount County more beautiful!