- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Stephen Lyn Bales, editor

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Land Trust Day celebrated at Mast

In honor of Land Trust Day, Foothills Land Conservancy and Mast General Store are partnering with an in-store fundraiser on June 1-2. 

Land Trust Day is a friend-raising event coinciding with National Trails Day that encourages new memberships in local land trusts. It’s an educational opportunity for store patrons to learn how land trusts serve the community—working to preserve a region’s rural character and assisting in the protection of valuable wildlife habitat and open lands. Jim Richards, Mast General Store’s General Manager in Knoxville and a board member at Ijams, says by partnering together both groups hope to “raise public awareness about land protection and what’s being done at the local level.”

Land Trust Day Kick Off!
Friday, June 1 at Mast General Store (6-8 p.m.) Coinciding with Knoxville’s "First Friday" festivities, Stephen Lyn Bales will speak about the ivory-billed woodpecker and what habitat loss meant to this endangered species. Copies of his book Ghost Birds: Jim Tanner and the Quest for the Ivory-billed Woodpecker, 1935-1941, donated by UT Press, will be available for sale with ALL the proceeds going to the Foothills Land Conservancy.


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Water Conservation Month at Ijams

To save water, low flow aerators have been installed on all sinks

Sustainability Report #5

For the month of May Ijams staff was asked to raise their own consciousness of how much water they consume.  Currently, Ijams board and staff are taking on a new sustainability initiative and one of the sub committees is looking specifically at water usage.  Other subcommittees include energy, transportation/operations, waste, procurement and education.

For the past several years, May had been a heavy water usage month.  So, the question arose; what can we do as a staff to curtail this?  Well, in order to know what we can do it is first important to know what efforts are already taking place.  Ameresco, a company charged with reducing Knoxville City Buildings with utility saving devices and water conservation measures, has already come through and installed low flow faucet aerators and a low flow shower head. The toilets at Ijams Nature Center were originally installed as low flow. We plant native at Ijams, which reduces the need for irrigation except in the driest parts of the year and when we do irrigate at the visitor center, we pump from our pond which is continually fed from our water source heat pumps.

So, with the low fruit already picked what more can we do?  The answer seems to be diligence.  Everyone on staff was asked to shut faucets off completely and report any leaks immediately.  Our plant rescue site needs to be watered occasionally and we attempt to do this in the early parts of the day.  We are operating with very old and damaged hoses and all of these have been repaired.

In addition to all of these efforts, we are currently seeking funding for a rainwater harvesting system for both the Miller Education Building and the roof under our solar array. These systems would be used for irrigation rather than using city water.

When I first started looking at ways to cut our water usage at Ijams, I was frustrated by how hard it was.  Being eternally pessimistic has its advantages; I’m rarely let down and I’m prepared for the worst, but it was time for me to look on the bright side...we are already walking the walk here at Ijams.

- Ben Nanny, assistant park manager

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Butterflies of all colors seen at recent Ijams party

Ijams' butterfly-themed Birthday Parties are fun and, dare we say, colorful, like a box of 64 count Crayola crayons strewn across the kitchen counter.

For more information on having your child's birthday party at Ijams call 577-4717, ext. 115 or e-mail

Kara Remington 
- Kara Remington, educator/naturalist

Friday, May 25, 2012

News Sentinel reports on citizen scientists at Ijams

University of Tennessee doctoral student in ecology and evolutionary biology Sara Kuebbing uses the U.S. Forestry Service's free iPad app for recording exotic species earlier this month at Ijams Nature Center. The information she gathers is entered into a national database that biologists use to track and eradicate invasive species. (MICHAEL PATRICK/NEWS SENTINEL)
Photo by Michael Patrick, Knoxville News-Sentinel © 2012

"Sara Kuebbing is on the hunt for aliens. And her only tool is an iPad.

"She stops along the River Trail at Ijams Nature Center in South Knoxville and looks closely at an attractive vine growing beside the trail on a tree," writes Marlene Taylor in yesterday's News Sentinel

For the rest of the article with photos by Michael Patrick click:
Citizen Scientist at Ijams.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Getting by with a little help from our friends

Old dead tree brought down away from historic tombstones

Sometimes things just fall right into your lap and other things just never seem to fall.  A tree falling down is something we deal with all the time at Ijams.  Storms come and go and leave trees on the ground, but they rarely knock down the ones you want.  One old snag we have been watching at the Stanton Cemetery had outlasted many storms while giants around it toppled like dominoes.  This particular snag loomed ominously over a bench, an interpretive sign and the resting place of many fine people.

Now, as I said, sometimes things just fall right into your lap.  The day before our annual spring plant sale a gentleman walked up to me and asked if we ever need any help on the grounds here at Ijams Nature Center.  I replied that we always need help.  This gentleman’s name is Travis Davis and he is an arborist with Wolf Tree in Knoxville, which is a division of the Davey Tree Expert Company.  He offered his help with any trouble trees on the property and we showed him to the old snag atop Mead’s Quarry.  “No problem” was his response.  Now, I’d looked at that tree many times and this is not the way I would have categorized it, but several days later Travis had that monster on the ground safely and with only help from a homemade battery operated winch.

Historic Stanton Cemetery located
on Tharp Trace near Mead's Quarry
The acquisition of Mead’s Quarry and Ross Marble Natural Area has added a unique dimension to the Ijams landscape.  It has also added a tremendous workload.  The management staff is fortunate enough to have a collection of outstanding volunteers who are self motivated and hard working.  Ed Bellinghausen and Jim Quick are long time volunteers and if things look good at these two locations, you can bet these guys had a hand in it!  Ed maintains Tharp Trace (Ijams’ steepest trail), Stanton Cemetery, Secret pond trail, and other points around Mead’s Quarry.  Jim maintains the hiking paths on Ross Marble Natural Area including the keyhole and rock bridge.  They are great guys and wonderful ambassadors for Ijams Nature Center.  The Appalachian Mountain Bike Club also does a tremendous job on all mountain biking trails. 

Now we are glad to welcome the help of a new volunteer in Travis Davis, who is also a member and frequent visitor to Ijams where he enjoys mountain biking.  Thank you Travis!

If you’d like to speak with Travis about a tree on your property or the services they provide, he can be reached at 687-3400.  Also, you can find information on the web at www.wolftreeinc.com.

- Ben Nanny, assistant park manager

Monday, May 21, 2012

What happens on a rainy day at Ijams?

Do you ever wonder what happens on a rainy day at Ijams. 

Volunteer/part time staffer Rex McDaniel was working on a rainy Monday and found out. Some folks do not let a little precipitation stand in the way of communing with nature.

For other photos Rex shot that day go to his web album: Rainy day at Ijams.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Ijams Prize at Science Fair goes to 4th Grader

This years Ijams Prize at the 
Regional Elementary Science Fair 
went to Fourth Grader Alexander Yarkhan
from Tates School of Discovery.

His experiment titled "Drop by Drop" 
illustrated how to make a 
solar-powered desalination system 
(removing salt from sea water)
more efficient.

- Congratulations, Alexander! Thanks, Dr. Louise.

Friday, May 18, 2012

POP Culture comes to Ijams' Plaza

Jason Mitchell of POP Culture

Starting this Moving into Nature weekend and every following weekend, join Jason Mitchell of POP Culture: Frozen Gourmet Pops on the Plaza in front of the Visitor Center.

Jason offers scrumptious, all-natural, homemade, frozen treats (either milk based or water based for vegans) in a range of flavors, perfect on a hot afternoon at Ijams.

Hours: Saturday-11 am to 5 pm, Sunday-1 to 5 pm. Weather dependent. (But call first to make sure the schedule hasn't changed.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

17th WaterFest celebrated at Ijams

WaterFest is awesome!

Over 800 students visited Ijams last week for the 2012 WaterFest, a day-long field trip celebrating the wonders of water. Students, teachers and parents participated in fun, educational activities at the nature center under the sunny skies.

Some of the activities helped students learn more about water, and how important it is to plants, animals and the environment.  The children could watch a Water Magic Show and learn about the properties of water; they could shoot bottles into the air at the Bottle Rocket station using air and water pressure; they could even participate in a Water Relay Race!

It was a fun day for all. WaterFests’ 100 volunteers and vendors had a great time, as well as teachers and parents.

And of course, the 800 students that visited, threw water balloons, had their faces painted, and shot rockets into the air… well, it’s safe to say they had a “blast.”

- Story by Katie Aucott, Ijams' AmeriCorps member, photos by Stephen Lyn Bales

The magic of water: A professor of H2O's perspective.
Water Balloon launcher proved that water could indeed fly.
WaterFest poetry contest winners with Kara.
WaterFest art contest winners with Kara.
Knoxville entertainer Sean McCollough folked it up for water. 
Face-painting with watercolors (but of course!)
Kids dressing like drops of water learned about pollution at Wawa-Polooza in the nature playscape. 
Sabrina: Aquatic animals need clean water or they become skeletons.
Kelle Jolly and Nancy Brennan Strange entertained with tales and songs about water.

All this learning can make you hungry. 
CAC AmeriCorps, Ijams staffers and others who helped plan and organize WaterFest 2012.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Ijams joins the Tennessee Pollution Prevention Partnership

One of many industrial dumpsters filled with trash picked up along the river
during this year's River Rescue shoreline clean-up organized by Ijams Nature Center. 

Sustainability Report #4

Ijams Nature Center is now a part of the Tennessee Pollution Prevention Partnership or TP3. This is a network of households, schools, government agencies, organizations and businesses that demonstrates that pollution prevention not only protects the environment but saves money as well. 

TP3 is sponsored by Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. Ijams became familiar with the program through our collaborative work with B&WY12. The program is open to anyone living in the state of Tennessee and has several steps or levels to the partnership program.

The first step is to complete a TP3 sign up card which is available on TDEC’s website. The next step is to submit a pledge card for pollution prevention in clean air, energy efficiency, hazardous material management, land and water conservation and solid waste reduction. After a pledge card has been submitted, interested parties can start working towards partnership by submitting a plan for a new project, completing a success story and community outreach.

Ijams is at the beginning stages of documenting our current policies and procedures internally, but we have long been involved in regional environmental education through programs such as EarthFlag, WaterFest, Living Clean & Green! and IjamsRecycles. This past March, Ijams coordinated the 23rd Annual River Rescue, a yearly cleanup of local river and creek shorelines that routinely attracts hundreds of volunteers. 

- Sabrina DeVault, Sustainability Committee

Friday, May 11, 2012

Spiders and pears: 3 curious wildflowers blooming at Ijams

Carolina spider lily (Hymenocallis caroliniana)

Once you come to Ijams, you do not have to go far to find these wildflowers.

Three interesting natives are blooming next to the Visitor Center and Universal Pond: Carolina spider lily, Virginia spiderwort and one of only two cactus species found in my part of the world, the Eastern prickly-pear (No state attached to its name, just the entire region). It does however produce an edible red fruit known as Indian fig or pear.

The spiders: Spider lily gets its specific name from the Carolinas; its Genus name Hymenocallis means "beautiful membrane" in Greek. The spiderwort's specific name honors Virginia. Considered a weed in some circles, Virginia spiderwort was exported to Europe in 1629 where today it is cherished as a cultivated flower in many gardens.

Virginia spiderwort (Tradescantia virginiana)

Prickly-prear (Opuntia humifusa)

- By Stephen Lyn Bales. Thanks, Jenny and Sabrina!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Bike and canoe rentals return this weekend

CanoeWhile it feels like spring has been here for months, it's hard to believe it's May already! This month we kick off a new season of outdoor recreational opportunities with River Sports Outfitters down at Ijams Quarry Lake to bring new visitors new ways to connect with the great outdoors.

Following last year's experimental season, we are expanding hours and the range of experiences. You can now rent a mountain bike to explore the multi-use trails out to Ross Marble Natural Area to visit the Keyhole, see the towering cliffs down Hayworth Hollow or meander through a grove of mature trees along the Hickory Trail. 

If you're not up to mountain biking yet you can rent a hybrid bike and cruise at a gentle pace and explore the Greenway through Ijams along the river to Island Home Park or the other way to the Forks of the River Wildlife Management Area. Bikes are available for half a day or full day rentals. 

If biking is not your thing you can try out a canoe or paddle board on Mead's Quarry Lake. Boats are rentable by the hour.

For more information. go to: Bike/Canoe Rentals.

Paul James 
- Paul James, Executive Director. 


Monday, May 7, 2012

2nd Annual William Haste Wildflower WalkAbout finds oddities

Special thanks to group leaders Bob and Lynne Davis on the right.

It was an odd spring for woodland wildflowers. February and March were so warm, many came and went early.

But that did not deter our second annual Davis led (Bob and Lynne) Wildflower WalkAbout at William Haste Natural Area near Ijams.

We found several wildflowers of note, even some oddities. Special thanks to Bob and Lynne for scouting out the trails beforehand and preparing a checklist of what was blooming. To see their list click: William Hastie Wildflowers.

- Text and photos be Stephen Lyn Bales.

Daisy Fleabane 
Doll's-eyes (more noted for its seeds that look like a doll's eyes.) 
Glade Phlox
Lyre-leaf Sage
Smooth Solomon's Seal
Solomon's Plume (formerly known as False Solomon's Seal, but there is really nothing false about it. ) 

And one big mystery. Nobody in the group could think of anything in nature, other than
a human with a power drill, that could make these holes. But why? Any thoughts?

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Perfect spring day for a plant sale

Ijams was buzzing with activity last Saturday as visitors from far and wide flocked to the Ijams Sprint Plant Sale. This event featured a host of vendors offering native and seasonal plants; everything from fruits and vegetables to flowering beauties could be seen soaking up some sun in the Ijams plaza. Cute visitors were also aplenty at the Plant Sale. Babies in wagons, puppies in handbags, little girls dancing to music... It's a wonder anyone could pay attention to the plants at all!

There was even a Rain Barrel Workshop at the event, hosted by the Water Quality Forum, which educated and encouraged onlookers about the use and benefits of rain barrels. Attendees were even given their own personal rain barrel! The Water Quality Forum is planning to host a second Rain Barrel Workshop on May 19th and June 23rd. The cost of attendance is $35.

With patrons eager to peruse the local flora, and vendors offering not only plants but also advice for their care and maintenance, it was a successful day indeed at the nature center. Everyone who attended had a wonderful time, and a great many flowers and shrubs found a new home.

Sponsors for the event were Oakes Daylilies, Rimmer Brothers Recycling, Kinsey Gardens and Steve Cox Insurance.

Music was provided by Luke Bowers Jazz Trio.

For a complete list of the vendors go to: Plant Sale.

- Text and photos by Katie Aucott, Ijams' AmeriCorps member

Thursday, May 3, 2012

LED lighting saves energy and money in the exhibit hall

Sustainability Report #3

New exhibit LED lighting
Pam Petko-Seus, Ijams Curator, gratefully acknowledges the generous contribution of Stokes Electric Company and Lytestyles, which enabled us to install new, highly energy efficient LED lighting in the Ijams Family Legacy Exhibit. 

Thank you for helping us go green!  

LED stands for "Light Emitting Diode." Each fixture uses only seven watts of energy to produce 50 watts of light. We are running 15 lights and using less power than two of our old canister lights while beautifully illuminating a hall of exhibits.

    Benefits of LED interior lighting:
    • Emit very little heat and no UV rays
    • Bulbs have an extended life (50,000 to 100,000 hours)         
        which is 20 to 30 times longer than incandescent bulbs

   Five times longer than fluorescent bulbs
   • Remarkably low power consumption
   • Resilient, shock and vibration proof

Ijams Nature Center has a Sustainability Committee chaired by Dennis Hunter. For more information click Sustainability at Ijams.

Ijams exhibit with LED lighting