Welcome to Tennessee Ecological Services Field Office
The Tennessee Field Office provides assistance to Federal and State agencies, local governments, businesses, and the general public relative to conserving, protecting, and restoring habitat for migratory birds and federally threatened and endangered species. Our assistance is typically provided through six programs: pre-development consultation, federal permits and projects, endangered species, environmental
contaminants, partners for fish and wildlife, and education/outreach.
Conserving Imperiled Aquatic Species in the Upper Tennessee River Basin
A team of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service scientists, with assistance from U.S. Geological Survey, have developed a collaborative conservation strategy examining cost-effective approaches for efforts to conserve and manage 36 imperiled freshwater fish and mussel species in the 22,360 square-mile Upper Tennessee River Basin. The strategy identifies aquatic species conservation objectives and recommends a management approach for conserving and recovering prioritized species and locations across the basin. It is designed to help the Service better integrate its efforts internally and with those of partners in North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia, whose missions complement the goal of maximizing conservation and recovery of imperiled aquatic species and the ecosystems upon which they depend.
Fish and Wildlife Service Announces $37.2 Million in Grants to Boost State Endangered Species Conservation Efforts - AL, AR, FL, NC, TN Receive Funding in Southeast
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced $37.2 million in grants to 20 states to support conservation planning and acquisition of vital habitat for threatened and endangered species across the nation. The grants, awarded through the Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund, will benefit numerous species, ranging from the Cahaba shiner to the red-cockaded woodpecker.
Read the New Release (.pdf)
North Chickamauga Creek Gorge State Natural Area
A picturesque view of bluffs along Cain Creek with chokeberry in the foreground
During September and October of 2013, staff from the Tennessee Ecological Services Field Office enjoyed opportunities to assist botanists from the Tennessee Division of Natural Areas – Natural Heritage Program as they monitored populations of Virginia spiraea (Spiraea virginiana) in Tennessee. This species is found in the states of Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia on flood-scoured cobble and boulder bars and bedrock outcrops, shaped by streams draining the rugged terrain of Southern Appalachia. One such place where botanists monitored this species is North Chickamauga Creek Gorge State Natural Area – a place with a story that demonstrates the importance of partnerships for recovering species listed under the Endangered Species Act. Read more
Welcome Home, Winged Mapleleaf Mussel
Don Hubbs with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and Sara Sorenson with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service prepare to return the federally endangered winged mapleleaf mussel to the Duck River in Tennessee. Photo: Chris Davidson - USFWS
An endangered mussel came home to a Tennessee River last week, a monumental reintroduction effort seven years in the making.
On Wednesday, federal and state biologists placed 103 winged mapleleaf mussels in the middle portion of the Duck River. The last time the species was seen in the river was more than two decades ago, when empty shells were collected in 1990 and 1991.
The freshwater mussel’s historical range, dating from the 1800s, is the Mississippi River and its tributaries from Minnesota to Arkansas. By the time the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed the winged mapleleaf as endangered in 1991, its only known population was in the St. Croix River between Minnesota and Wisconsin. Since then, four additional populations were found in Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Missouri.
Partners in the reintroduction effort with the Service are the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, Missouri State University, and the Kansas City Zoo.
Service biologist Chris Davidson, the Southeast Regional lead for the winged mapleleaf mussel, said reintroducing the species to rivers within its historical range (such as the Duck River) is one of the recovery goals for the species.
“It took seven years to identify suitable fish hosts in the southern portion of the species’ range,” said Davidson. “Then we had to work out some kinks with propagation and ‘grow out’ techniques.”
One effort was an attempt to “grow out” the juvenile mussels in the Saline River (southern Arkansas), rather than a hatchery or zoo facility.
The young mussels – all about two and a half years old – have traveled more than some people. They were produced from fertilized females found in Arkansas’ Saline River, which were then brought to Missouri State University. At the university’s mussel propagation center, the female mussels expelled their larvae onto a channel catfish. The larvae have a parasitic stage where they must attach to catfish gills until they mature into tiny, juvenile mussels and drop off the host fish. Channel catfish and blue catfish are the only suitable fish hosts for winged mapleleaf.
The juvenile mussels remained at the university for about six months. They then were transferred to the Kansas City Zoo where they continued growing for another two years.
Davidson said the probability of survival is good because the mussels are more than two years old.
Future winged mapleleaf mussels for reintroduction in the Duck River will be grown at the Service’s Natchitoches National Fish Hatchery in Louisiana.
The Duck River was selected in part because it’s close to the Saline and Ouachita rivers in Arkansas, where two of the five populations of winged mapleleaf are found. The Duck River has high mussel density and diversity, plenty of channel and blue catfish, and no invasive zebra mussels, which have out-competed native species in other rivers.
One more good reason to pick the Duck River: Tennessee has long-term monitoring sites there, and will be able to track the mussels’ progress. Biologists tagged, or laser engraved, unique numbers to these mussels, which will help identify the mussels when they are later recaptured in the monitoring effort.
For more information about the winged mapleleaf mussel species, visit:http://www.fws.gov/midwest/endangered/clams/winge_fc.html.
The Harpeth River Restoration Project Recognized with 2013 Governor's Environmental Stewardship Award
From left to right:
Bob Martineau, TDEC Commissioner, Steve Alexander, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Bill Reeves, TN Wildlife Resources Agency, Frank Fiss, TN Wildlife Resources Agency (in back), Jane Polansky, TDEC Scenic Rivers Program Coordinator, Dr. Ken Moore, City of Franklin Mayor, Dorie Bolze, Harpeth River Watershed Association, Executive Director, Ronnie Bowers, TDEC, Lindsay Gardner, Southeast Aquatic Resources Partnership, Governor Bill Haslam
The Harpeth River Restoration Project was recently recognized with the 2013 Governor’s Environmental Stewardship Award for Excellence in Natural Heritage. "The Harpeth River Restoration Project represents a major initiative in restoring and enhancing one of Tennessee's increasingly valuable and scenic rivers...this project illustrates how it is possible to restore the natural flow and ecology of a river system" (TDEC, 2013). Representatives from almost every partner organization were on hand for the Governor’s luncheon on June 25 to accept the award along with other awardees this year. What a great way to cap off the completion of the project!
Free Flow Restored to the Harpeth River
Since 2004, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has cooperatively worked with the Harpeth River Watershed Association, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, and other partners to address water quality impairments and habitat degradation in the Harpeth River Watershed. These collaborative efforts have produced innovative strategies designed to improve the overall health of the watershed while providing enhanced recreational opportunities for the region.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, state agencies, and non-governmental organizations are restoring the free flow of the river and important habitat on the Harpeth River. This project will remove the only barrier on the Harpeth River to reconnect the entire river for fish passage, restore natural fish habitat, stabilize eroding river banks in the 2,000 feet of the river in the vicinity of the lowhead dam, and maintain the City of Franklins drinking water withdrawal. The Harpeth River is a State designated Scenic River and is one of the most archeologically and historically-significant rivers in the State.
The Service provided approximately $350,000 through the Fish Passage Program, National Fish Habitat Action Plan, and Southeast Aquatic Resources Partnership. The Service is also making in-kind contributions by monitoring aquatic habitats after removal of the dam and the restoration of this reach of the Harpeth River. Many partners were involved in making this project a model for conservation success. A "Dam Cam" has been set up to record the removal with time lapse photography and is available online at http://www.harpethriver.org/
Centennial Park Restoration Project
(L to R) Debbie Duren (NRDAR Program Manager, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation); Deputy Commissioner Brock Hill (TDEC Bureau of Parks and Recreation); Dennis Gregg (Obed Watershed Community Association); Mayor J.H. Graham III, Moria Painter (NPS Obed Wild and Scenic River): Niki Nicholas (Superintendent, Big South Fork NRRA), and Steve Alexander (FWS, Tennessee Field Office)
In 2002, there was a significant oil and natural gas well blowout and spill into Clear Creek, a tributary of the Obed Wild and Scenic River in Tennessee. A Trustee Council comprised of the National Park Service, the State of Tennessee, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was formed to assess natural resource injuries pursuant to the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (“OPA”), 33 U.S.C. §§2701, 2706, and 15 CFR Part 990. The Trustee Council developed a Damage Assessment and Restoration Plan (DARP) and an Environmental Assessment that documented natural resource injuries associated with the spill and presented to the public potential restoration projects to compensate for those injuries. One of the restoration projects proposed in the DARP involves active stormwater management through the modification of existing drainage channels and the construction of wetlands/rain gardens within the City of Crossville’s Centennial Park. These stormwater drainage channels discharge to a tributary of the Little Obed River at several locations within the park. The Obed River downstream of Crossville is also federally designated critical habitat for the threatened spotfin chub.
Tennessee Purple Coneflower Delisted
Photo Credit: Geoff Call - USFWS
Thanks to the efforts of many partners who have worked together for more than 30 years to expand and protect this sunflower’s colonies, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is removing the Tennessee purple coneflower from the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants in 30 days, by September 2, 2011. This plant is found in the limestone barrens and cedar glades of Davidson, Rutherford, and Wilson Counties.