Growing up in Columbia, Tennessee, these are the types of things I have always heard people say about our local river. I've lived here since I was ten years old, and only now (at age 20) am I finally realizing the truth about the Duck River — all of the statements above are invalid rumors.
Last Friday, June 3rd, 2011, I was fortunate enough to be included in a canoeing/kayaking trip down the Duck led by Leslie Colley and organized by The Nature Conservancy’s Generation Conservation, a progressive (and friendly!) group of young professionals from Nashville. According to Gen C’s Facebook group:
“The Nature Conservancy Tennessee Chapter's Generation Conservation group (Gen C) brings together a cross-section of Nashville’s brightest men and women in their 20s, 30s, and 40s who share a love of nature, a concern for the environment, and a belief that hope and action are indispensible for making a difference. Our goal is to ensure that our peers and the next generation of Tennesseans learn about and participate in conservation at a local, regional, and global level.”
By one o'clock, we were on the water and on our way down the river. Before long, we stopped on a shady shoal to have lunch: barbecue sandwiches, chips, brownies, and drinks:
Leslie on Mussels: “They have a great deal of value to humanity, and while they're not sexy and exciting like tigers and elephants and panda bears, I think they're really fascinating and important creatures...” Enjoy this wonderful talk that Leslie gave on a mussel shoal in the middle of our float. It’s extremely informative, easy to follow, and totally worth eight minutes of your attention.
So, what can we take from all of this fun? Not only is the Duck River an excellent source of entertainment and a great example of a true “nature experience,” it’s also a very healthy river. Mussels are filter-feeders, and if the water they live in is polluted, they simply can’t thrive. Any basic biology or environmental science course will teach you that the health of a river can be determined by the complexity of the life it supports. Crawdads, fifty-five species of mussel, and over one-hundred species of fish call the Duck River home. That says a lot.
At the risk of sounding preachy, I believe it is imperative that we defeat these misconceptions about pollution (which definitely encourage people to litter—it can’t get any worse, right?) and enjoy and protect this incredible natural resource.
I’m so grateful that I got to take this trip down the river with a group of forward-thinking, intelligent individuals. I hope it won’t be my last time exploring with them, and I’m certain it won’t be my last float down the Duck!
Keep an eye out for my next Eco-Explorer post, coming up soon.