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Climate Resilience


Our vision is a more equitable, sustainable, and climate-resilient future for all people, species, and places within the Cumberland River basin—a future in which access to clean and abundant water allows our region to thrive. Our work to promote innovative nature-based climate solutions across our communities is essential to making that vision a reality.


Climate change is one of the greatest challenges we are facing today in Tennessee and throughout the world. It’s an incredibly complex problem and in order to combat it, we will need everyone to get involved. Get to know how climate change is affecting our region and how you can help increase climate resilience in Tennessee.

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Here's What We're Doing

The Cumberland River Compact is uniquely positioned to take on today’s complex water quality and climate challenges within the Cumberland River basin, one of the most biodiverse regions in the world. We take an inclusive, nature-based approach to implement projects and programs that help to mitigate the climate impacts faced by our state including extreme heat, flooding, drought, and wildfires.

Reducing Flooding

  • We make our communities “spongier” by implementing green infrastructure, like bioswales and rain gardens, and depave projects to reduce localized flooding. Our projects include climate-adaptive stormwater retrofits that are designed to withstand future increased precipitation.
  • We also plant trees along stream and river banks, slowing and spreading water during heavy rainfall events.
  • Our Depave Program removes pavement, replacing it with permeable surfaces which soak up stormwater instead of turning it into runoff.

Reducing Urban Heat

  • Root Nashville, our tree planting campaign in partnership with Metro Nashville, has a goal of putting 500,000 trees in the ground by 2050. In addition to helping keep our air and water clean, these trees provide shade that helps reduce temperatures in the city.
  • Less pavement = cooler streets, so our Depave Program is key. It’s as simple as that.

Replenishing Streams

  • Green infrastructure in place of pavement allows more water to soak into the ground, replenishing the groundwater reserves that feed streams during times of droughts. Rain gardens, bioswales, native yards, Green Alleys, permeable pavement, and trees are all examples of green infrastructure!

Promoting Carbon Storage

  • Our River Friendly Farms program encourages farmers to use sustainable, regenerative practices that help keep carbon stored in the soil.
  • Trees planted by Root Nashville act as a carbon sink, removing greenhouse gasses from the atmosphere.

Protecting Vital Habitat

Planning for the Future of Tennessee

Cumberland River Compact’s Executive Director, Mekayle Houghton provides leadership and input to the following initiatives that plan for the future of the region:

  • TN H2O Steering Committee and Natural Resources Working Group. TNH2O provides a blueprint for ensuring that Tennessee’s future water needs are secure.
  • In 2021, Mekayle was selected to serve on the Water Infrastructure Advisory Council to represent environmental interests in Tennessee’s $1.35 billion American Rescue Plan investment.
  • Mekayle also serves as co-chair of the Natural Resources committee on Nashville Major John Cooper’s Sustainability Advisory Committee, which advised Mayor Cooper on how the City can lead the way in responding to climate change.
  • Mekayle previously served on the Nashville Next committee

Building Future Leaders

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