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Swimmers try to show river is clean   6-21-08

The Tennessean

Politicians kicked off their shoes. Aformer deputy governor

walked up with four shirt buttons undone. Four rescue boats

stood by, just in case.

Swimming legends they weren’t, but more than 20 Metro and

state offiials, environmental activists and others swam across the

Cumberland River on Thursday to make a point about the quality

of the water running through the city.

“I don’t think we have any Olympic contenders, but they’re

doing a good job,” bluegrass singer Annie Neeley said as she and        

Twelve years later, Vic Scoggin, right, in no hurry to cross the Cumberland River.

her “hillbilly band” got ready to launch into another song on the

East Bank.

Paul Davis, director of water pollution control for the Tennes-

see Department of Environment and Conservation, was the fastest,

finishing in two minutes, 43 seconds, according to the stopwatch

of Metro riverfront redevelopment director Chris Koster.

The spectacle attracted crowds on both riverbanks. About 100

bureaucrats, attorneys, lobbyists and children watched the swim-

mers dive in near Riverfront Park and emerge, some 500 feet later,

near LP Field.

The crowds might have been smaller if not for a recent spat

between Metro Council members.

Charlie Tygard called the event “a crazy publicity stunt” last

week and said it could encourage teenagers to swim what he con-

siders a dangerous river.

Emily Evans, who started organizing the event last fall, said the

river was safe and pointed out that every swimmer would wear a

life vest.

Evans, one of five council members who swam, also said sew-

age overflows into the river have decreased from 2.3 billion gal-

lons in 1989 to 16 million gallons in 2007.

Vic Scoggin a Pegram man who swam all 696 miles of the

Cumberland 12 years ago to draw attention to the river’s filth at

the time, also made the much shorter trek Thursday. Before diving

in, Scoggin  said he was glad to see people paying attention to the

river. “It’s a heck of an asset,” he said.

 

 

MAN SWIMS ENTIRE LENGTH OF UNCLEAN CUMBERLAND  Commercial Appeal, Memphis Tn July 5, 1996. The Associated Press

SWIMMER TO COVER CUMBERLAND RIVER Commercial Appeal, Memphis Tn May 1, 1996. The Associated Press

"Impact of silt disputed at hearing for marina." Tennessean [Nashville, TN] 24 Oct. 2003

"SWIMMER CONTINUES." Kentucky Post [Covington, KY] 29 May 1996

"SWIMMER FIGHTS POLLUTION TRAVELED LENGTH OF CUMBERLAND." Kentucky Post [Covington, KY] 5 July 1996,

 

 

Activist Spotlight  www.biologicaldiversity.org/action/spotlight/index.html

 

 

Swam Cumberland, Still Saving Rivers

Could you — or would you — swim the entire length of the Cumberland River for the sake of endangered wildlife? In 1996, Vic Scoggin — environmentalist, Tennessean, boat captain, Center supporter and much more — made the 696-mile swim to publicize the importance of saving the Cumberland and its diversity of species from water pollution. He’s gone to great lengths to save a Nashville crayfish population from being buried by a marina — with, he says, the help of Center materials — and he now wants to help the Center save the Obey crayfish. He’s helped with our campaigns for Southeast environmental causes (and others) since 2009.

Scoggin grew up on the Cumberland — a global biodiversity hotspot for freshwater mussels and fish — raised his children there and still lives on the river. He uses thousands of dollars of his own money to fight for the environment and has founded his own nonprofit organization, Save the Cumberland, to defend the Cumberland River watershed and the animals and plants that depend on it by using research, education and litigation.

Now he’s purchased a research vessel and assembled a team of researchers to document all species on the Cumberland (and other rivers) and the threats they face, from water pollution to waterside development. He’s already made a month-long, 3,000-mile journey along rivers to New York City, Atlantic City, N.J., Norfolk, Va., Wrightsville Beach, N.C., Charleston, S.C., Key West, Fla., Pensacola, Fla., Mobile, Ala., and everywhere in between.

In the future, Scoggin said, he’ll offer the services of the vessel — dubbed the Eastern Surveyor — to universities, government agencies, laboratories and research facilities to help educate the public on a variety of subjects pertaining to river environment.

Says Scoggin about why he does what he does: "You look at the mussels and the crayfish on the bottom of the stream, and that's our health right there. The health of the animals is the health of the water that we drink. People need to realize that we have got to protect these animals to protect our own health." 

For more information, visit www.savethecumberland.org.
Then learn more about the Center’s own campaign to stop theSoutheast freshwater extinction crisis.

Want to share your story in our Activist Spotlight?
A sea change can begin with an environmentalist boat captain — or maybe, it can begin with you. If you or someone you know has found a creative way to turn concern for the planet — and for endangered plants and animals — into change for the better, we'd like to share your story with the world. Send us your spotlight idea here.