The Little Tennessee River Basin was designated as a Native Fish Conservation Area on October 14, 2015, thanks to the work of several partners, which include FCF, North Carolina Trout Unlimited, Nature Conservancy of North Carolina, North Carolina Wildlife Federation, and North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission. The Little Tennessee River Basin stretches from north Georgia, across the western counties of North Carolina, and into Tennessee. It has long been recognized for the incredibly rich diversity of fish and wildlife found beneath the surface of its streams. The basin is home to more than 100 species of fish, as well as mussels, snails, crayfish, and aquatic plants, including a number of state and federally listed threatened or endangered species.
What is a Native Fish Conservation Area?
Native Fish Conservation Areas (NFCAs) are river basins that are managed for the conservation and restoration of native fish and other aquatic species, as well as compatible recreational and commercial uses. The goal of NFCAs is to sustain the integrity of key aquatic habitats in order to maintain long-term persistence of native aquatic species. NFCAs involve a non-regulatory, collaborative approach to conservation that incorporates biological needs and local community values into watershed management practices.
The designation was developed by Trout Unlimited, the Federation of Fly Fisheries and the Fisheries Conservation Foundation and embodies a non-regulatory approach to river conservation focused on looking at river systems as a whole and incorporating the recreational and economic needs of communities within the basin. The designation is based on four critical elements:
- The protection and, if necessary, restoration of watershed-scale processes that create and maintain freshwater habitat complexity, diversity and connectivity.
- The area should nurture all life stages of the fishes and other aquatic organisms being protected
- The area should include a large enough watershed to provide for long-term persistence of native fish populations.
- Groups supporting the NFCA should have the capabilities to provide land and water management within the basin that is sustainable over time.
“This designation highlights what a lot of folks who work in river conservation have known for years — the Little Tennessee River has an incredible diversity of life and has been the scene of myriad efforts, many groundbreaking, to conserve that diversity,”
— Fred Harris, FCF Board Member and Member of North Carolina Wildlife Federation
To read more about the economic impacts in and around the Little Tennessee River Basin, download the Southern Appalachian River Conservation fact sheet.
For more information, please visit the Little Tennessee NFCA website.
Slider Photo Credit: Gary Peeples/USFWS (A Yancey County student, collects stream insects)