TVA helps protect Duck River with conservation easement

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

By Jessica Moore

Staff Writer

TVA is collaborating with the Nature Conservancy and other partners to purchase a conservation easement on land along the Duck River. The easement, totaling 119 acres, will be held by the Nature Conservancy. Leslie Colley, of the Nature Conservancy opened the meeting along the Duck with a few words, but mostly explaining how exciting it is for The Nature Conservancy and the Tennessee Valley Authority to be working together to help preserve and protect the Duck River and its aquatic life.

The land with the easement is located alongside sections of the river of the river identified as key habitat for fish, mussels, and other aquatic life. The Duck River is home to more than 151 species of fish and 55 species of mussels, some of which are on the endangered species list. According to TVA and Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency biologists present during the meeting, there are few places on earth a person could go and find the species found in the Duck River. In all of North America there are 308 known species of mussels, of which 150 are in Tennessee. The Duck River runs more than 270 miles through Middle Tennessee before emptying into the Tennessee River near New Johnsonville in Humphreys County.

Preserving riparian habitat (the wetlands) along the Duck River helps protect the river habitat for fish, mussels, and other aquatic life. The easements will serve as riparian buffers, which can shade the adjacent waterways and keep them cool, help stabilize the stream banks, and filter and slow down surface runoff.

TVA has an agreement in place called the Tennessee Freshwater Mollusk Strategic Plan with the TWRA, U.S. Department of Interior, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, and The Nature Conservancy. The plan aims to identify and protect existing habitats of freshwater mussels in Tennessee, including the Duck River.

TVA's collaborative work in the Duck River is part of TVA's Natural Resource Plan, which includes the Aquatic Ecology Management Program. That program focuses on protection of aquatic biodiversity by identifying and actively protecting exceptionally diverse aquatic biological communities, such as the Clinch, Powell, and Duck watersheds.

Rebecca Tolene, a vice president with TVA, shared her enthusiasm with the crowd, saying, "We are really excited to be here. We take every opportunity we have to take care of the treasure we have here in the Duck. I'd like to express my appreciation in The Nature Conservancy in protecting and enhancing this wonderful treasure."