Serving the Community by Preserving and Protecting Our Rivers
By Sara Arms
Beginning last year, the Harpeth River Watershed Association underwent a re-branding and expansion process. Complete with a new name, Harpeth Conservancy, a new corporate leadership structure and a revitalized mission to keep our waters clean, they are striving to serve our community under the vision of “clean water and healthy ecosystems for the rivers of Tennessee championed by the people who live here.”
Along with this re-branding effort, Dan Fitzgerald, who earned his PhD in wildlife and fisheries science from Texas A&M University was hired on as the Director for Watershed Science and Restoration. Founding Executive Director, Dorene Bolze, is the newly elected President and CEO and Jim Redwine is the Vice President and COO.
“Harpeth Conservancy remains committed to the State Scenic Harpeth River and to building and expanding on the successes we have achieved over the past fifteen years,” says Dorene. “In fact, we are intensifying our efforts in water quality assessment, land use, river restoration, outreach and recreation programs in the Harpeth as part of larger initiatives statewide and as pilot and demonstration programs to protect rivers in Tennessee and around the country.”
By renaming the Harpeth Conservancy, they hope to better represent what they do and what the nonprofit organization stands for. They are now more closely aligned with their mission to restore and protect clean water and healthy ecosystems for rivers in Tennessee by employing scientific expertise and collaborative relationships to develop, promote and support broad community stewardship and action.
The name also reflects the company’s scientific roots in water conservation and protection and well as portrays their collaborative approach to raising the standards of water quality in Tennessee.
“And, putting it simply, four words is just too long,” says Dorene.
According to Dorene, the public reception of the new brand has been overwhelmingly positive. The company is moving at “lightning speed,” she says, and the Harpeth Conservancy is getting involved in state and national water conservation movements. She mentions people are now paying attention to these initiatives and others on local and national levels. She explains that people care about the things close to them locally, and for middle Tennesseans, this is the Harpeth. Deciding whether or not to keep its name in the company’s title was the hardest decision the board had to make.
“When we did a bunch of survey work, we saw that ‘Harpeth’ meant a lot to people,” says Dorene. “It has a meaning to those who live here and work here. When dropping the name, it loses its ground – its’ place. At the end of the day all politics is local. Everything you care about is local. The decisions that impact those things are determined locally – championed by the people who live here.”
The Harpeth Conservancy has been in Williamson County for the past eighteen years and since its foundation it has been using innovative scientific research to fight river pollution in Tennessee. As well as protecting and cleaning already polluted rivers, the Harpeth Conservancy takes legal action against organizations that don’t comply with state-mandated anti-water pollution laws.
For a state like Tennessee, which is known for its expansive wildlife and wilderness scene, it is imperative that organizations like the Harpeth Conservancy exist and fight for the waterways vital to our local ecosystem. Currently, their major project is research on how sewage and toxic run-off from properties bordering the river damages the river water and harms the wildlife that live in and around it by depleting water of oxygen. This is a national problem and the Harpeth Conservancy is joining the South Eastern regional effort to find solutions.
For more information about the Harpeth Conservancy, their mission, upcoming events, the River Swing on September 9th and how to offer your help, visit harpethconservancy.org.