Nonprofit announces new Cumberland River Center

Friday, December 14, 2012, Vol. 36, No. 50

NASHVILLE (AP) - A Nashville nonprofit dedicated to the health of the Cumberland River basin is expanding its profile in a big way.

On Tuesday the Cumberland River Compact announced plans for a new educational center on the banks of the Cumberland next to the Tennessee Titans' LP Field.

"This space will be an educational resource for thousands of visitors," Board Chairman Skip Lawrence said.

Lawrence said he expects the Cumberland River Center will be used for workshops, trainings and educational programs that teach the value of the river to the economy and to people's health and show how to protect it.

Newly named executive director Paul Sloan said that when the Cumberland River Compact started 15 years ago, the river was "below acceptable standards, polluted and unswimable." Today, he said, fisherman catch bass in the river and athletes swim it as part of triathlon events.

At least part of that turnaround is due to the e fforts of the Cumberland River Compact.

Sloan said some of the group's successful programs over the years have included helping farmers reduce their impact on local waterways by using fewer pesticides and creating less sediment from activities like tilling. The group also has assisted local officials in understanding and implementing stormwater regulations, installed rain gardens and planted trees, and provided educational programs for children in the classroom.

The group is based in Nashville, but focuses on the entire 18,000 square miles of the Cumberland River basin.

Sloan and Lawrence said the high-profile new location will allow them to reach many more people.

Looking out at the broad view of the river and downtown Nashville from the new space, Sloan said, "The view cannot help but inspire."

The Cumberland River Compact so far has $1 million in pledges for the new center from donors that include the Ingram Barge Company. The center is expect ed to open in the spring.