ALLONS – The first Clean Marina flag to fly over any marina in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District and Cumberland River Basin was at Willow Grove Marina located on Dale Hollow Lake in Clay County. Fifteen years later, with long-term family and staff carrying on the effort, Willow Grove Marina completed its recertification as a Clean Marina for a third cycle.
Corps officials met with the Willow Grove Marina owners and staff Nov. 29, 2021 and held a ceremony to present the Clean Marina flag to mark their renewed achievement and commitment to taking care of the environment.
“I’ve raised my son Blake around this marina,” says Mickey Ledbetter, owner operator of Willow Grove Marina. “I can’t express how wonderful it feels to look back and see his photo in the original clean marina flag raising from 2005. Blake, along with loyal staff, have seen the marina improve and have been a part of the efforts to grow in the Clean Marina Program.”
According to Park Ranger Sondra Carmen, Dale Hollow Lake’s Clean Marina coordinator, the Clean Marina Partnership is a voluntary program implemented by the Nashville District and its watershed partners to promote environmentally responsible marina and boating practices.
“The clean marina program is for those marina operators that want to go above and beyond in their operation by following management measures to reduce water pollution and erosion, promote environmentally sound boating practices and encourage water safety,” said Carmen. “There is a checklist with seven different sections that each qualifying marina must meet. In the case of Willow Grove Marina, they have exceeded every one of them.”
Since initial certification, Willow Grove has proved its dedication to environmental sustainability by changing out old fuel storage tanks for those with modern safety features, partnering with an environmental company to procure enhanced gas guzzler devices to keep excess spills from the lake, adding dog cleanup stations, replacing old fluorescent lighting with new LED fixtures and much more.
“The marina staff is awesome,” said Mickey. “They are all trained on our clean marina practices, and they go the extra mile to work with our customers to encourage them to keep the marina harbor clean and safe. Through their feedback, we will also be moving to a new commercial mass text service which will not only allow us to communicate regularly with our customers but will also allow us to share info on our Clean Marina efforts.”
Phillip E. Harrell, environmental protection specialist from the Nashville District, and a participant of the re-certification inspection team, bragged on the efforts and actions of the staff at Willow Grove Marina.
“From an environmental standpoint, the Clean Marina status indicates that the marina team is committed to protect natural resources from pollutants such as fuel, oil products and other hazardous chemicals. It shows that the marina not only meets environmental requirements but exceeds what is required,” said Harrell.
“I really think the program is a cool thing,” said Blake Ledbetter. “I was exposed to this at a very young age and clean marina comes naturally to me. I did not know it was such a thing and assumed all marinas were kept up to the same standards as we are. Then when I visit other marinas at other places and at other lakes, I saw the state some others are in and it’s so different to see.”
The manager for the marina, Michael Maxwell, is a well-known scuba diver at Dale Hollow Lake and has observed how diving activities on the lake has increased in recent years because of the pristine and clean water in the lake, which is why taking care of the environment with a clean marina is so important.
“Dale Hollow Lake has the best water quality in the region,” continued Maxwell. “The water is so clear year-round and makes for an enjoyable diving experience. I take great pride knowing that our marina is making a positive impact on keeping the waters clean and pure.”
Of the 15 marinas on Dale Hollow Lake, Willow Grove is the only one that provides dive tank refill service.
“Protecting the lake we love is what we are all about,” exclaimed Mickey. “Dale Hollow Lake is a part of all our lives at the marina. The staff loyally returns year after year and our customers are so supportive. We are all honored to care for the lake and be a part of the Clean Marina Program.”
Fifteen years and going strong, Willow Grove Resort & Marina continues its legacy as one of the cleanest marinas in the Cumberland River Basin. The team there excels in proactive clean boating outreach with marina patrons and visitors. Through their efforts to recertify, they are recognized for exemplary action and commitment to pollution prevention and water resource protection in and around the marina basin.
The Willow Grove family are excited to continue to fly the Clean Marina flag.
For more information on clean marinas in the Nashville District visit https://www.lrn.usace.army.mil/Missions/Recreation/Clean-Marina-Program/. To connect with Willow Grove Marina visit https://willowgrove.com/.