New National Wildlife Refuge Proposed To Help Protect Paint Rock River Watershed

Thursday, January 17, 2013

In 1903 President Theodore Roosevelt created the first National Wildlife Refuge to protect brown pelican breeding grounds on the east coast of Florida. The refuge system has since grown to 560 refuges across the nation, and now the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service proposes establishing one to protect streams and hardwood forests in the Paint Rock River watershed. Fully realized, it would cover about 25,120 acres of streams, riparian areas, and upland hardwood forests in Franklin County, Tn.

The proposed establishment of a National Wildlife Refuge in the Paint Rock River watershed is one of two America’s Great Outdoors (AGO) priorities identified in Tennessee in the AGO’s November 2011 50-State Report. This project also has the support of Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam and aligns with several AGO goals, including large landscape conservation, enhanced river access, and support for creative public-private partnerships.

The service has identified a conservation partnership area, including areas along Estill Fork, Hurricane Creek, and Larkin Fork, with a total area of approximately 40,505 acres. Within this conservation partnership area, the Service will reach out to landowners to gauge their interest in stream and forest conservation, ranging from willing landowners selling their property to receiving technical assistance to help manage habitat on their property. Within the 40,505 acres, the service is authorized to acquire in fee-title or hold conservation easements on approximately 25,120 acres. The future configuration and acreage of the refuge would depend on such factors as the willingness of landowners and the availability of funds.

The Paint Rock River and its tributaries are known for their high aquatic diversity, which includes numerous mussels and fish, several of which are threatened with extinction. Much of the upper watershed is still forested, which has contributed to the relatively good water quality. Large tracts of forest support a variety of migratory birds, in addition to an abundance of game species.

The service anticipates that much of a future refuge would be open for wildlife-based recreation, including hunting, fishing, photography, bird watching, and environmental education.

The service is currently seeking public input on the proposed refuge. People can e-mail comments to paintrockriver@fws.gov; mail comments to U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, 2700 Refuge Headquarters Road, Decatur, Al. 35603; or telephone comments to 256 353-7243. 

The service is also hosting an open house to receive comments and answer questions on Feb. 5, from 3-7:30 p.m. at the Franklin County Public Library in Winchester, Tn.

For more information, visit: www.fws.gov/southeast/paintrockriver.


Outdoor Chattanooga News And Events

Brown's Ferry Kayak Tour Aug. 2 The National Park Service will join Outdoor Chattanooga for a special historical tour of Brown's Ferry by kayak on Sat., Aug. 2, beginning at 9 a.m.  Paddle the TN River around Williams Island and the entrance to the TN River Gorge while an interpretive ranger from  Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park ... (click for more)

Three Popular Waterfowl Hunting Areas Have New Regulations

Hunting regulations have been changed on Gooch Unit E, Meeman-Shelby State Park, and White Oak (Lebanon Pond area) Wildlife Management Areas.  The duck hunting on these areas, prior to the change, was on a first come first serve basis. There were not any established hunting sites and hunters could set up anywhere they wanted. This has created an overcrowded issue which ... (click for more)

Harr Outlines $40 Million Plan For Chattanooga Light Rail System

Outgoing Chamber of Commerce President Ron Harr on Monday outlined a $40 million plan for a Chattanooga light rail system that would serve not only downtown, but also the Airport and the Enterprise South Industrial Park. In a speech to the Chattanooga Engineers Club, Mr. Harr said most cities looking at such an ambitious plan "would be facing costs of over a billion dollars." ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Choo Choo Adding Clubs, Restaurants In $8 Million Renovation

The historic Chattanooga Choo Choo is adding clubs and restaurants in a $7 million renovation, it was announced in front of the South Market Street landmark on Monday morning. The Comedy Catch will be moving from its longtime home in Brainerd and there will be a new 500-person music venue that will be in addition to Track 29. The new venue, managed by Track 29, will feature a ... (click for more)

Senator Bob Corker: An Open Letter To Tennesseans

We are incredibly fortunate to live in a state in which companies worldwide are clamoring to establish a presence. Many attribute it to our pro-business culture, well-prepared workforce, low tax environment, right-to-work policies, and engaged citizenry.  That is why the announcement by Volkswagen to build its midsize sports utility vehicle and establish the South’s ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Wamp Refuses To Stoop

With less than two weeks before the Aug. 7 th election and the last week of early voting now underway in Hamilton County, Congressional challenger Weston Wamp sounded upbeat and relaxed early yesterday afternoon. “I’m pleased to say that I believe we are right where we need to be … maybe even more than we had hoped.” Wamp, who is challenging two-term incumbent Chuck Fleishmann ... (click for more)