Other Web Sites
Related To the Oak Ridge Reservation
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Science and Technology on the Oak Ridge Reservation

Environmental Research

Web sites at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and other federally supported institutions tell about a few of the ongoing and completed research projects and programs that have benefited from the unique resources available on the ORR. Also, the ORNL land use plan highlights environmental research on the ORR.

The National Environmental Research Park (NERP) on the ORR includes most of the environmental research sites. The NERP newsletter archive has articles about some NERP research activities.

 Walker Branch Watershed Research Program -- The Walker Branch Watershed is one of only a few sites in the world characterized by long-term, intensive environmental studies. Since 1967, studies on Walker Branch Watershed have contributed to a more complete understanding of how forest watersheds function and have provided insights into the solution of energy-related problems associated with air pollution, contaminant transport, and forest nutrient dynamics. Walker Branch is identified by the NASA Earth Observing System as an EOS Land Validation Core Site -- a location with extensive long-term measurements and the necessary infrastructure to support new in situ measurements, so that it is a good place for scientists to validate satellite remote sensing data against conditions on the ground. 

Oak Ridge National Laboratory Hydrology Field Test Sites  -- Field sites with intense monitoring networks are being used for basic research into the subsurface hydrology of heterogeneous, fractured rock and soil, and to test new tracer test techniques and monitoring techniques for fractured porous media. 

The Oak Ridge Reservation houses the Field Research Center (FRC) of the Natural and Accelerated Bioremediation Research (NABIR) program. This is a site for field research to support improved understanding of fundamental biogeochemical processes related to in situ bioremediation of contaminated soil and groundwater. More information about the FRC.

ORNL researchers and collaborators from other institutions are conducting field experiments on the ORR that address fundamental questions about the effects of global environmental change on ecosystems

Practical methods for airborne collection of land data have been tested and demonstrated on the ORR, including airborne geophysical surveys and use of radio-controlled airplanes to extend and supplement conventional aerial photography.

Applied Ecological Modeling on the Oak Ridge Reservation -- Ecological models developed and tested on the ORR can be used to help Federal land managers devise optimal land management strategies for military bases and other Federal lands.

ORR researchers seek to understand Microstegium and other exotic plant pests -- ORNL and University of Tennessee ecologists are using the ORR as a natural laboratory for research aimed at better understanding the phenomenon of invasive species.

Field observations on the ORR have played a vital role in fundamental research on atmospheric transport processes directed by the NOAA Atmospheric Turbulence and Diffusion Division. This organization operates a permanent research station on the Walker Branch Watershed.  There are websites about a few ATDD projects that have used ORR data:
            --The East Tennessee Ozone Study is one of several studies that have relied on the NOAA regional network of meteorological towers for atmospheric research, which includes several towers on the Oak Ridge Reservation. Data from this meteorological network are being used to study (specifically) the causes of high ozone levels in the region and (in general) the effects of complex terrain on atmospheric properties.

Long-term monitoring of biota in Oak Ridge Reservation streams has led to broadly applicable findings about the potential for biological indicators (bioindicators) to monitor the severity of water pollution by assessing the effects of environmental stressors on the health of aquatic organisms.

Conservation Value of the Oak Ridge Reservation


"The Oak Ridge Reservation: A Nationally Valuable Natural Resource" -- Article from the ORNL Review discusses regionally unique diversity of plant and animal species found on the ORR.

"Battlefield - East Tennessee" -- Metropulse article tells about the accelerating loss of ecological resources in the region and efforts to stem the tide, including the significance of protecting public lands such as the DOE Oak Ridge Reservation.

"Bald eagle in Oak Ridge" - Letter to the editor of The Oak Ridger describes the amazing variety of bird life observed on an early morning bird walk at Freels Bend. Published May 16, 2000.

State seeks new agreements to protect reservation's natural areas - January 22, 2001 article in The Oak Ridger discusses the views of the Tennessee Department of Conservation and Environment regarding the value of natural areas and sensitive species on the ORR, and their protection.

Species Lists

The website Available Species Lists for the Oak Ridge Reservation includes the following:

Sensitive Wildlife Species on the Oak Ridge Reservation - Species listed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or the Tennessee Department of Conservation and Environment as endangered, threatened, species of concern, or species in need of management.

Birds sighted at Freels Bend - 86 species listed.

Threatened and Endangered Plants on the Oak Ridge Reservation - More than 20 plant species known to occur on the ORR, are listed by the state of Tennessee as threatened or endangered, including pink lady's-slipper and Canada lily.

Complete list of ORR vascular plants - Over 1,100 vascular plant species occur on the Oak Ridge Reservation, including 26 state-listed rare plants. 
Spring wildflowers of the Walker Branch Watershed

 Oak Ridge Reservation fish species

Value of the Oak Ridge Reservation for the Local Economy

The National League of Cities study on "Tourism and Entertainment as a Local Economic Development Strategy: A Survey of City Halls," identified natural areas (such as the ORR) as an important contributor to the quality of life and the economic vitality of cities and towns nationwide. Read the Oak Ridger news story about this study.

Public Health and Safety Value of the Oak Ridge ReservationUnder Construction

Educational Value of the Oak Ridge Reservation

Faculty and students of the University of Tennessee are frequent visitors to the Oak Ridge Reservation for class field trips, demonstrations, and research activities. This Knoxville News-Sentinel news story highlights research work at Freels Bend by UT graduate student Greg Crutsinger: Goldenrod study earns UT grad student fellowship

Many of ORNL's education programs for K-12 students, teachers, and university students take advantage of the outdoor resources of the ORR

Recreational Value of the Oak Ridge Reservation
Oak Ridge National Environmental Research Park Driving Tour - The Museum of Science and Energy formerly promoted a self=guided tour of the public roads of the ORR, where visitors could see locations of natural, historic, and research interest. Unfortunately, some of those roads are closed to through traffic following the events of September 11, 2001, and the online tour brochure is no longer available.

Public hunting on the Oak Ridge Reservation -- The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA), in cooperation with DOE, conducts public hunts for deer and wild turkey on the ORR.  On-line information includes hunting area maps and statistics from past hunts. 

Several gravel roads on the Oak Ridge Reservation have outstanding recreational potential as greenways -- components of the  Oak Ridge Greenways system.  The Gallaher Bend Greenway is the first public greenway on the ORR, allowing hikers and bicyclists to tour the wooded Gallaher Bend peninsula that lies beyond Clark Center Recreation Park -- part of the Three Bend Scenic and Wildlife Area.  A second public greenway, the North Boundary Greenway, opened in 1999. It is near residential areas in West Oak Ridge. Not only is it popular with fitness walkers, birdwatchers, and recreational cyclists, but it offers a pleasurable bicycle commuting route to the Heritage Center and Horizon Center sites at the East Tennessee Technology Park. 

Public tours of ORNL and Y-12 (May through September) and nature walks on the ORR are coordinated by the American Museum of Science and Energy. Check the museum's calendar of events or phone the museum (865-576-3200) to find out about current opportunities.

Historical Significance of the Oak Ridge Reservation 

Picturesque Freels Cabin was home to a farm family for several generations before the government took over the land in 1943. Today it is used for education programs.

DOE's Land Use Plan for the Oak Ridge Reservation
Comprehensive Integrated Planning for the Oak Ridge Reservation - DOE's current land use plan

Oak Ridge Reservation Land Use Planning Process - Official website for the land-use planning initiative that began in 2001.

Opportunities for Industrial Reuse and Economic Development
on Previously Disturbed ORR Sites

Reuse of previously disturbed sites ("brownfields") -- instead of abandoning old industrial sites and building new facilities on undeveloped land ("greenfields") -- can be an effective way to achieve economic development goals without giving up the resource values of natural open space. DOE established programs in Oak Ridge to encourage industrial reuse of unneeded federal facilities and equipment, as well as adjacent disturbed lands. Unfortunately, these organizations are devoting much of their attention to developing greenfield industrial parks -- on Oak Ridge Reservation land taken away from the Environmental Research Park.
East Tennessee Technology Park
CROET logo
Community Reuse Organization of East Tennessee
In visiting these websites, remember that the Heritage Center (the former K-25 Site) is the property where true reuse is occurring, while the Horizon Center (Parcel ED-1) is a greenfield industrial park being built on land that was part of the Environmental Research Park and was considered to have significant ecological value.

Other Organizations
Interested in Resource Protection and Management in Our Region
Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (logo)
Tennesee Division of Natural Heritage
Tennessee Citizens for Wilderness Planning
Foundation for Global Sustainability logo
Foundation for Global Sustainability
TEC logo
Tennessee Environmental Council
TOS logo
Tennessee Ornithological Society
TWF logo
Tennessee Wildlife Federation (formerly Conservation League)
SAMAB logo
Southern Appalachian
Man and the Biosphere
Cooperative (SAMAB)
Foothills Land Conservancy
Nature Conservancy logo
The Nature Conservancy of Tennessee
Southern Environmental Law Center

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