What's Happening ON & IN the Water Matters

In Memphis, most of us stay on the land, except perhaps for a riverboat cruise or a paddle in the harbor. Historically we've been afraid of the Mississippi River. That's understandable. The River is big and powerful, and, at Memphis and in our harbors, water quality is not safe for swimming or to eat the fish we catch there.

But that can and is changing. Races like the Canoe & Kayak Race and Dragon Boat Race are getting more people out on the water. Groups including the River Warriors are tackling the trash. There's a plan to repair and encourage people to use the Cobblestone Landing, and recently, now that the Wolf River Greenway has reached its confluence with the Mississippi, there's talk about looking into whether it'd be a good idea to reconnect Wolf River to Wolf River Harbor.

A picnic on one the pristine sandbars nearby and an afternoon swim can forever transform even the staunchest landlubber into a river steward for life. As Joe Royer, a longtime advocate for the River and recreation on it, says: people in the Rockies didn't level the mountains; they learned to ski and not only had fun but developed a huge new revenue source as they did it.

Click "read more" for a quick look at what's happening ON & IN the water in Chattanooga, Columbus, New York, and downriver at Clarksdale, MS. --
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Harahan - Important Role Then & Now

This is the fascinating history of Harahan Bridge and the role it played in Memphis and U.S. history.

Big River Crossing - Big News

A huge hit! Big River Crossing opened Sat., Oct. 22, 2016. It's the transformation of the historic Harahan Bridge that adds a bike and pedestrian crossing from TN to AR across the Mississippi River at Memphis.

The brainchild of Charles McVean, Big River Crossing is "nearly a mile long, the longest public, pedestrian bridge across the Mississippi." Harahan Bridge was built as a railroad bridge with "wagon ways" on each side, boardwalks for wagons and automobiles.

It's the boardwalk on the north side that is becoming the new pedestrian/bike pathway. Big River Crossing is a major component in what's being called the green renaissance in the Memphis, and it brings that green vision downtown to our riverfront.

At a cost of $17.5M, Big River Crossing is part of the larger 10 mile "Main to Main" $43M connector project between Main Street in Memphis and Broadway Ave. in downtown West Memphis. It has led to the creation of a 1,700 acre Delta Regional Park adjacent to the Bridge in AR that includes a seven-mile trail system and to the Big River Parkway Levee trail (73-miles) funded and under construction in Eastern Arkansas.

Update on Memphis Industrial Port

Wayne Risher, for the Commercial Appeal, takes a brief look at the condition of Memphis's Industrial Port -- the need for an update and its cost.
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Memphis in May on the River

Beale Street Music Festival on the River in Tom Lee Park!
Apr. 29 - May 1
Click HERE for line-up, ticket information, and more. 

10 City Parks Changed America

Do you realize that Memphis has an almost connected system of parks and public spaces along our waterfront? 

This PBS series, "10 City Parks that Changed America," shares the history of our urban parks and their potential to change our cities environmentally, socially, economically, aesthetically, ....

Memphis's own Overton Park is one of the 10!

Don Richardson (1950 - 2016)

Donald Sanders Richardson (aged 66),  died in Memphis on Feb. 3rd.  Lovingly nickmaned “the tree man,”  Don was widely respected as a conservationist and advocate for sustainability, environmental justice, and public parks.

Born in Covington, KY, the younger son of a Southern Baptist minister, Don’s love of nature started early. He was active in the Boy Scouts of America, becoming an Eagle Scout and member of Order of the Arrow.  In the 1950s Richardson lived with his family in West Germany. He returned  to the U.S. to  attend Wake Forest University in N. C. where he received a B. A. in political science.  After college, Don served for two years in the U.S. Army Military Police Corps and was stationed in Fort Belvoir, VA. Don remained in the Washington area, working for various computer software stores, in marketing for “Army Times,” and as a reporter for “Sport Scene Magazine.” 

In 1995, Don moved to Midtown Memphis to help care for his father and quickly became involved in the community. Don served as chair of the TN Chapter, Sierra Club as well as in various offices in the local organization. He was involved in sustainability plans for the region and a leader in developing the 2000 Old Forest trail map and arboretum. He shared his vast botanical knowledge with many on his monthly Old Forest hikes—introducing participants to the wonderful Shumard Oaks, aromatic leaf of the spice bush, and abundant wildflowers. He served as a board member of Park Friends from 2002 to 2009. In 2004 Don helped organize Friends for Our Riverfront and served on its board until his death. 

Survivors include the many trees and parks and public spaces Don helped save; an older brother Coleman and his wife Kathy, who live in College Park, MD; a niece, her husband and a grandnephew, in St Louis MO; and various first cousins, many residing in TN.

Funeral arrangements are under the auspices of Canale Funeral Directors. A memorial service will be held at Canale Funeral Home, 2700 Union Ave. Extended, on Sunday, Feb 7, at 1 p.m. Memorials may be sent to an organization of the donors choice.

Has the Bloom left Bass Pro/Pyramid?

With it looking like Bass Pro had something to do with illegally clear-cutting the bank and floodplain along Wolf River Harbor and that they have no intention of rebuilding the pedestrian bridge to Pinch historic district, citizens are again shocked by the retailer.  The Commercial Appeal reports: City on Hook to build Bass Pro garage  It seems that buried in the complex contract between the City and Bass Pro, the City committed to build a parking garage for the megastore.This expensive detail comes as a shocker to many, including former City Councilmen Harold Collins and State Senator Lee Harris.
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What Now? Call for Action

After the floodplain and Harbor Path were clear-cut, the City filed an after-the-fact request. They are asking the Corps of Engineers and TDEC for approval for what they've already done plus for what they want to do - clear-cut an additional 1000-feet of Wolf River Harbor. They've ironically named it the Wolf River Greening Project.

To prevent more clear-cutting and to begin a discussion to determine how to environmentally restore Wolf River Harbor, write or email

Tell them your interest in the area and your concerns. Request that they deny the after-the-fact permit request, prohibit more clear-cutting, and begin a collaborative process to environmentally stabilize the bank and restore the area.


Where were the Trees?

Before Dec. 12, trees and shrubs stabilized the floodplain and bank of Wolf River Harbor 
from point #1 to point #2 -- a 3,658-foot stretch.
They lined the harbor bank, providing a gentle beautiful walking path and some shade in the summer and a natural habitat for fish and birds, especially migratory birds and butterflies.

The trees and shrubs were clear-cut without plan review or permits.


Help Keep Memphis Beautiful

On Dec. 12, a 3,658' stretch along the eastern side of Wolf River Harbor (from the TN Visitors Center to the Auction Street/Willis Bridge) was clear-cut. After the fact, the City has requested a permit to approve what they did and to continue cutting for 1000 more feet.

They call it the Wolf River Greening Project. You be in the judge --

To prevent further clear-cutting and set the stage for a collaborative effort to restore the floodplain, natural habitat, water quality, and public path along the harbor, please email

Bob.Martineau@tn.gov (TN Dept. of Environment & Conservation). 

Send them comments, concerns, and request for a public meeting before Jan. 21. Help Keep Memphis Beautiful!


Corps Notifies Public of After-the-Fact Application to Clear-Cut Harbor & Seeks Public Comments

Click on document pages to enlarge.

Applicant: Debbie Singleton was deputy director of Housing and Community Development (HCD) under Robert Lipscomb and became interim director when Lipscomb was removed from office. Her online biography says she "has over 30 years experience in Mortgage Banking, Federal Regulatory Compliance and Redevelopment Project Management" and has worked at HCD for 19 years.  

Senior Project Manager: Alan Barner is with O. T. Marshall Architects.


Clear-cutting Destroys Beautiful Path Along Harbor

Today the online Commercial Appeal reported Tree-clearing near Bass Pro stopped by order of Corps of Engineers. It appears that the action was given the go ahead by someone within the City Administration and was done outside of standard and required review and permitting procedures.

Some of the trees were 75-100 years old and provided shade and beauty around the TN Visitor Center and extending north along Wolf River Harbor past Pyramid/Bass Pro to the U.S. Coast Guard facility.

We're reposting a slideshow of a walk through the area in 2011 --
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A Summons to Memphis 2015 - Mayor Mick Cornett

The Memphis Flyer is bringing Mayor Mick Cornett to Memphis to share with us the success stories of Oklahoma City. From the sound of his 2015 State of the City Address, there seem to be many comparisons that can be made with Memphis and lessons we can learn.
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Cities Reinventing a Relationship with Their Rivers

Think what could happen in Memphis if we thought of and planned our riverfront as a system of connected parks and historic sites for citizens to enjoy? 
Seoul. Ljubljana, Madrid, Paris, Qinhuangdao City, Lyon, Bordeaux, Moscow, Singapore, and New York City -- 10 cities that have found ways to improve the quality of life and reintroduce nature sustainably back into the heart of their cities.

Take a look at this article by Yuliya Georgieva posted on the Landscape Architects Network.