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.


2015-16 Sport Fishing Regulations Postponed Until December Meeting

The Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission postponed decisions on the 2015-16 sport fish regulations until its December meeting. The action came during the commission’s Oct. 29-20 meeting held in Greeneville at the General Morgan Hotel Conference Center. The TFWC also proposed an amendment to the sport fishing regulations (proclamation 14-17) that would change regulations to ... (click for more)

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy Announces New Strategic Plan To Ensure A Bright Future

The  Appalachian Trail Conservancy   has announced a five-year strategic plan that will advance the health and long-term management of the Appalachian Trail. The plan, which was the culmination of a two-year collaborative process between the ATC and the ATC’s board of directors, is a vision and strategy that will build on the organization’s stewardship of the trail ... (click for more)

Chickamauga Lock To Reopen As Soon As Next Thursday

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District  plans to reopen Chickamauga Lock to all navigation traffic as early as next Thursday. An inspection of the upper gate anchorage and a repair plan were completed today. Chickamauga Lock closed on Monday after a routine inspection revealed a crack in the anchorage of the upper gate. Lt. Col. John Hudson, commander ... (click for more)

Downtown Chattanooga Apartment Complex That Brought $3 Million Profit Exempt From Most Taxes Until 2022 Under PILOT

A downtown Chattanooga apartment complex that recently was sold at a $3 million profit is exempt from most property taxes through 2022 under a PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) agreement.   No payment of school taxes was included in the deal for Walnut Commons at Walnut Street and Aquarium Way.   The only taxes due on the property for the next eight ... (click for more)

A Vote For Education Is Critical In Tennessee

In a state where just 28 percent of eighth graders are proficient in math and 33 percent are proficient in reading according to national assessments, education is deserving of more attention in 2014 elections. Across the country, more parents are making informed decisions about their child’s education, but for Volunteer State parents without resources, choices are difficult to come ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: My Garden In November

As the first day of November arrives today, it is cold enough in my garden to officially certify that fall has fell! There are even signs of ice on the ground but there is a bounty crop of acorns so, in keeping with our monthly tradition, some will get shiny acorns and others will get a chunk of cold ice: A SHINY ACORN for Patriots football coach Bill Belichick for scoffing at ... (click for more)