The Cumberland River Compact’s Mill Creek Connectivity project was selected to receive Governor Bill Lee’s Environmental Stewardship Award for Excellence in Natural Heritage. KCI was the lead engineering firm for the majority of this project. Gary Mryncza, PE, PH, LEED AP, Water Market Leader, and Adam Spiller, Natural Resources Practice Leader, were present at the Governor’s Environmental Stewardship Award Ceremony in Franklin, Tennessee, to accept the award.
An important tributary to the Cumberland River is the Mill Creek Watershed. Mill Creek flows from Nolensville, Tennessee, past rapidly expanding subdivisions, under I-24, alongside car dealerships, through big box parking lots, behind strip malls, past the Nashville airport and finally into the Cumberland River. Mill Creek and the habitat it provides are considered by Tennessee’s State Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP) as very valuable, but at risk for potential harm amidst rapid urban growth over the next 20 years. Many groups have worked to reduce that risk while enhancing and restoring this ecological gem. Four years ago, the flow of Mill Creek was so obstructed that species migration and recreational use was near impossible. For the first time in more than 100 years, Mill Creek is flowing freely again thanks to dam removal work performed by KCI and the Cumberland River Compact. Our team designed 5 of the 6 dam removals, which also involved permitting and construction oversight. More than 50 miles of creek connectivity were created, allowing the federally endangered Nashville Crayfish to travel along the tributaries. Additional work by the Cumberland River Compact included 19 stewardship events featuring cleanups, the removal of 2.5 tons of trash and 875 pounds of recyclables, and the planting of 500 tree seedlings.