It may not be David Letterman, but the Fort Loudoun Lake Association’s television program The Lake Show is a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon. “The Lake Show, not to be confused with The Late Show,” reminds Penny Mitchell, executive director of the FLLA. “Depending on how people like the show, it could be a late show,” she jokes. The Lake Show runs on CTV, a community television channel, at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday afternoons, and at 1 p.m. on Sundays. It is also available streaming at those times on the CTV website, www.ctvknox.org.
Mitchell and her four full-time co-workers at the FLLA put together a weekly program featuring lake enthusiasts like MasterCraft Pro Wakeboard Tour representative Parker Stair, members of local government, and environmental advocates, all to raise awareness about water quality in the Fort Loudoun Lake watershed.
Through its efforts, the FLLA keeps the Vol Navy afloat, herds the ducks after the Great Knoxville Rubber Duck Race, and clears the way for the delicate crafts competing in the Knoxville Dragon Boat Race. The Dragon Boat Race alone required several days of clearing the lake in preparation, but the event raised over $96,000 for Knox Area Rescue Ministries.
Anyone who has ever been on the lakes and rivers of East Tennessee knows how dangerous a submerged log can be to boaters and swimmers. Just imagine the effect of 14,488 of them – that’s how many the Fort Loudoun Lake Association (FLLA) removed last year. Also cleared from the lake were 2797 bags of trash, submerged boats, and more than one runaway dock that had detached from its moorings. In the last six weeks alone, the FLLA has removed 3 dead cows and a number of dead deer. Most of that detritus was carried into the lake by flooding during the storms that have been so common in the last year.
Much of the work of the FLLA is collecting debris from the lakes, but their larger mission is to encourage people to participate in the care of their watershed. According to Mitchell, this is what makes The Lake Show such a good opportunity. “I decided it was a very good way to help us accomplish our mission,” she says, “because our mission isn’t to restore all the shorelines, and our mission isn’t to get all the sticks out of the lake ourselves; our mission is to give lots of people an opportunity to share in the responsibility… we have to show all these people in the watershed how important our water resources are to us.”
Unless you live directly on the lake, you may not spend much time thinking about the effects of storm water, but the health of the watersheds affects everyone. “A lot of people feel like they’re not on the lake,” says Penny Mitchell, “but everybody in the watershed really does live on the lake. I mean, they may not be able to see it from their front door or back door, but they’re on the lake.” In fact, Blount County is home to 40 percent of the shoreline of the 52 linear miles of the Fort Loudoun Lake, in addition to most of the Little River watershed.
The FLLA has many members in Blount County, as well as in Knox and Loudon Counties and across the country, and Mitchell and her staff want to involve as many people as possible, making The Lake Show a valuable way to reach new audiences with different interests. Future episodes of The Lake Show will feature representatives of the Vol Navy and a UT rowing coach, as well as programs on how to manage stormwater in yards and neighborhoods with rain barrels and other methods.
Meanwhile, the FLLA will continue to protect us all from such hazards as floating mattresses and runaway docks. “They’re out there wreaking havoc, bumping into docks, boats, shorelines, retaining walls,” says Mitchell.
The FLLA’s next major event is the annual Paddle for Clean Water boat race, to be held on August 29. The event will consist of a 4-mile paddle from Ned McWherter Park to Sequoyah Hills Park, where participants will enjoy food, live music, and exhibits from local groups. For those interested in becoming involved, more information and a registration form for Paddle for Clean Water are available at www.fllake.org.
A clip of The Lake Show, courtesy of the FLLA, will be posted as soon as possible. The delay is due to technical difficulties.