Replacing old culverts with new aquatic organism passages will benefit aquatic species.

GREENEVILLE, TENN, October 12, 2017 – US Forest Service officials at the Cherokee National Forest say portions of National Forest System Road 25 (NFSR) – Clarks Creek Road in Washington County will be closed while new aquatic organism passages are being constructed. The Clarks Creek Road –NRSF 25 is closed where it crosses Sill Branch approximately 3 miles from State Route 107. The road will be closed for up to six weeks.

Aquatic organism passage (AOP) culverts will be constructed on Sill Branch to ensure fish and other aquatic organisms are able to move up or downstream under the road. Removing the culvert barriers will once again connect streams in the Clarks Creek Watershed, making them good candidates for brook trout restoration in the future.

This project is a partnership with Trout Unlimited, Tennessee Valley Authority, The Nature Conservancy, American Rivers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and U.S. Forest Service. The restoration of brook trout is an on-going effort among various resource management agencies and entities to help ensure that this unique native fish remains in Tennessee streams.

Unaka District Ranger, Leslie Morgan said, “This is an exciting project with a variety of partners that will be of considerable benefit to brook trout and many other aquatic species in Sill Branch. This project will complete our Nolichucky River-Clarks Creek priority watershed restoration efforts that began in 2011 to address erosion, water quality and stream habitat issues in this area. Replacing old culverts with new aquatic organism passages will benefit aquatic species. I realize that closing portions of the road during construction work may be inconvenient for some people. Construction work such as this must be done when water levels and the risk for flooding are low, so the weather was a big factor in determining when this work could be done. This project will not only benefit aquatic life in the creeks but it will enhance fishing opportunities for anglers”.

For over 20 years the Forest Service has improved the technology and methods applied to provide improved passage for fish and other aquatic species at road-stream crossings. AOP’s are designed to provide unimpeded passage of aquatic species under roads. When designing an AOP consideration is given to swiftness, depth and flow of the water, stream channel, streambed and wood movement. Well designed and installed AOP’s not only provide considerable benefits to fish, but also benefit other aquatic species such as turtles, frogs, crayfish, salamanders and mussels, and increase resilience to flooding of roads and other infrastructure.

For more information about the Clarks Creek Road AOP project contact the Unaka Ranger
District Office at 423-638- 4109.

Media Contact: Marcia Carter
(423) 638-4109

Forest Service
Cherokee National Forest
Unaka Ranger District
4900 Asheville HWY SR70
Greeneville, TN 37743