Two organizations were recognized for their freshwater conservation efforts at the 3rd Annual Tennessee River Basin Biodiversity Network awards ceremony at the Tennessee Aquarium. The Education/Outreach Award Winner: Clinch River Valley Initiative (CRVI). CRVI is dedicated to focusing on education, water quality, river access economic development, downtown revitalization, tourism, and the development of a new state park along Virginia’s “Hidden” Clinch River. Over the past few years, the CRVI has:
- Coordinated an annual Clinch River Environmental Education event for certified teachers and informal environmental educators
- Hosted an annual Youth Summit for high school students that offered presentations about aquatic biodiversity and related topics. The students then brainstorm ideas to apply for mini-grants for environmental projects. Completed projects are presented at the Clinch River Environmental Education Symposium.
- Developed a plan for an Ecological Center for St. Paul, VA. Well underway, the former Oxbow Center has been obtained and will be maintained by UVA Wise. An online curriculum has been developed for the center.
Science/Management Award Winner; Hiwassee River Watershed Coalition (HRWC) whose mission is to sustain good water quality in the watershed’s streams, lakes, and rivers. The HRWC has worked with stakeholders to improve water quality and protect aquatic biodiversity in North Carolina and Georgia. They have brought in more than $6.8 million in grant funding to the Upper Hiwassee River watershed. HRWC has completed 16 individual stream restoration projects involving 40 landowners in Brasstown Creek and its tributaries.
HRWC accomplishments include:
- Seven critical bare areas projects, 160 acres of land, were re-vegetated, and 2,000 acres of pastureland were improved.
- 55 acres of riparian buffers were established and will be maintained for t30 years.
- Brasstown Creek was removed from the Slist of impaired waters in 2002.
- HRWC performed watershed improvements in the Valley River and Chatuge Lake watershed.
- HRWC repaired leaking or failing septic systems and assisting with storm water management.
- HRWC is a regional partner in the protection of Sicklefin Redhorse numbers, a rare fish found only in the Hiwassee and Little Tennessee Rivers.
Award winners were nominated and chosen by their peers. Each received $5,000 from TVA.