When we think of river life, for many of us a handful of animals may come to mind – trout, smallmouth bass, muskie. But in the Southern Appalachians, waters of the Upper Tennessee River Basin are alive with a whopping 255 species of fish and mussels.
Despite this incredible diversity of stream life, contaminants affecting water quality, low population size and habitat fragmentation have combined to threaten many species. Twelve of the 172 fish species known from the basin are on the federal endangered and threatened species list, as are 24 of the 83 known mussel species. Those numbers add to 36 threatened or endangered animals across a river basin covering an area about the size of West Virginia.
For years, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and its partners have worked cooperatively to recover these rare animals, employing a variety of strategies. In looking at how best to move forward…
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