NASHVILLE — The Tennessee Wildlife Federation wants Hancock and Hawkins counties’ litter ... well, that is, photos of the litter!

Whether it’s in the woods, on the lake, along a river, or by the road, the Federation is asking residents to make snapshots of the cans, bottles and outright trash that make our great outdoors a little less great.

To submit your photos and help raise awareness of Tennessee’s litter problem, visit tnwf.org/litter.

According to the TWF, litter is a growing problem in every county across the state.

“It’s a problem that hurts wildlife and habitats, and it costs Tennesseans hundreds of millions every single year. But we’ve learned to overlook it,” a spoksesperson said.

Local residents can help put a spotlight on the issue by uploading photos of littered areas in Hancock and Hawkins counties.

The Tenn. Dept. of Transportation estimates there are 100 million pieces of litter on Tennessee’s roads at any given moment and that 18 percent of it will end up in waterways. The Tennessee Valley Authority removed 230 tons of trash from the Tennessee River in 2018.

Studies regularly uncover new impacts to wildlife and habitats. For example, after decades of litter that sinks in water—glass, cans, and heavier plastics, such as those used for drink bottles—the beds of our lakes and rivers are fouled, potentially impacting important habitat for native fish.

Litter costs Tennesseans millions of dollars each year to clean up and costs others even more. Farmers suffer an estimated loss of $60 million a year and litter stunts the outdoor industry, which generates $21.6 billion in economic activity for the state.

“We must make ourselves see the extent of the problem—for the economy and the environment—that’s in front of us every day. Until we do, it’s not likely we’ll get serious about finding an effective solution,” said Butler.

(PUB. NOTE: If your church, school, fire department or other civic group is hosting a community clean-up day, please snap photos and share with The Rogersville Review and the Hancock County Eagle. Send snapshots with information to: tommy.campbell@therogersvillereview.com or hancockeagle@therogersvillereview.com.)