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Fulcrum community highlight: Tennessee River Gorge Trust

January 22, 2020

Rivers serve as lifelines to the humans, animals, and plants in the areas where they flow. They naturally assume excess rain and minerals and nurture the growth of every living thing they touch. That’s why it’s imperative that we preserve our rivers and the natural space surrounding them. Rivers naturally change over time, but recently extreme flooding and other imbalances have caused the erosion of river boundaries, destruction of property, mold, and other problems that pose a danger to the surrounding people and area. Since 1981, the Tennessee River Gorge Trust has provided a helping hand to preserve the Tennessee River Gorge and the precious plants and animals that live and migrate in that area. The Gorge, a beautiful 26-mile canyon formed near the Tennessee River in Chattanooga, TN, is a wonder to geologists, who believe that it was formed some 290 million years ago.

The folks at the Tennessee River Gorge Trust came to us looking for ways to better communicate with field teams while documenting changes around the river. Here’s how they are leveraging Fulcrum in their efforts to conserve the beautiful Tennessee River Gorge.

What is the mission of Tennessee River Gorge Trust?

To preserve the Tennessee River Gorge as a healthy and productive resource through land protection, education, community engagement, and good land stewardship practices.

What challenges do you face in working toward your mission?

Tennessee River Gorge Trust owns over 6,000 acres, and manages an additional 1,000 acres in conservation easement. With a small staff of 6, it is a challenge to patrol all of our acreage each year and to identify and mark all of our boundary areas. The forest is always growing and changing, making it difficult to keep track of maintenance needs.

Aerial shot Tennessee River gorge

What is your plan to resolve those issues?

We are excited to use Fulcrum to help us with our field data collection in multiple areas. During 2020, we plan to roll out Fulcrum apps to assist in three major areas of the Tennessee Valley Gorge:

  1. Property patrol
  2. Trail and access point maintenance
  3. Boundary marking

In future years, we hope to use Fulcrum for other projects such as citizen science data collection, volunteer bio-blitzes, designing trails and access projects with partner groups, and more.

What do you like about working with Fulcrum?

Gleaning input from all staff members, from our Executive Director to our Accountant, has been transformative for us. Our Conservation Director, Access Director, and Executive Director collaborated to develop an app on the Fulcrum platform. This app meets our data collection needs and helps us understand our property patrols better. Now, our entire staff can enter data efficiently whenever they’re on our properties. Our field staff might input more data due to the app’s mobility. They can enter data while driving, walking, boating, or even flying (a drone) over Tennessee Valley Gorge. No special training was required; they just needed the Fulcrum app on their smartphones.

Our Conservation Director can now quickly compile patrol data, syncing it with our GIS. She generates reports for our board, the Executive Director, or the public about our property patrols and other significant issues. This aids in developing high-level protection strategies and making decisions for the land we own and manage. We also use this data spatially to solve problems and devise strategies. Moreover, it enables us to create detailed visual reports for the public.

Another one of our challenges is developing a protocol with the ability to take precision data points while in remote locations without cell phone service — Fulcrum does that. We are currently experimenting building this instance using Fulcrum in tandem with Trimble R1 to enhance our staff device’s signals for data collection.

Overall, we are very excited to use Fulcrum to support our mission of protecting land in the Tennessee River Gorge. We want to thank Fulcrum for a great partnership and support!

About Fulcrum

Fulcrum is a data collection platform that enables organizations to reduce costs, access critical data in real-time, and improve decision making at every level. With Fulcrum, you can create custom apps using our simple drag-and-drop builder to turn your paper documents into digital forms that your field teams can quickly complete on mobile devices. Our software is available at no cost to humanitarian and volunteer disaster-relief organizations via Fulcrum Community.