Southeastern Fishes Council
Dedicated to the Conservation of Southeastern Fishes

1997 Report of Region 2 - Southeast
Conservation Notes (due to pressing obligations and putting off this years report until the very last minute, only topical conservation notes are provided).

Georgia- The TVA recently exercised the Right of Eminent Domain to clear a swath across a private land owners property for a power line right-of-way, which crosses an unnamed tributary of the Conasauga River in Murray County, Georgia. This tributary contains the only known reproducing population of Etheostoma trisella in the Georgia portion of the Conasauga River (the other is Mill Creek in Tennessee). Photographs of the cleared area show it to encompass the riparian zones and relatively large areas of adjacent sloping banks in the creek hollow. The purpose of the power line is to provide additional power to the Dalton, Georgia area (principally for the growing carpet mill industry). The land owner, a Mr. James Turner, was unsuccessful in soliciting assistance from any federal agency to slow down or stop this action. According to an article appearing in The Chatworth Times, 11 December 1996, vol. 111-44, p. 5, the TVA cut the power line crossing in opposition to the landowner's wishes and without reaching a mutually satisfactory agreement for the cost of the land. Apparently the TVA decided to construct this new power line rather than pay fees to Georgia Power for use of existing power lines.

Certainly a vastly larger number of private land owners have suffered significant loss of property due to the enactment of the right of eminent domain as opposed to constraints placed on property to protect endangered species.

The robust redhorse Recovery Group has had limited success in their efforts to artificially propagate the huge sucker for restocking within its native range. According to Bud Freeman (University of Georgia), the 1995 year class experienced 92% mortality in holding ponds prior to stocking, but some 3000 fish were stocked at several sites in the Broad River. Unfortunately, only one fish out of 96,000 fry survived from the 1996 propagation effort. Jimmy Evans (Georgia Department of Natural Resources) has prepared a manuscript for the Waterpower 1997 Conference documenting the early events that transpired after the discovery of the Oconee River population of the robust redhorse; the manuscript cites esoteric sources, such as letters in file, that will certainly be untraceable 50 years from now.

Although it does not harbor any endangered fishes, the Okefenokee Swamp may become a threatened aquatic ecosystem. DuPont is planning to mine the trail ridge area along the eastern boundary of the swamp for titanium. The mine will be an open pit on 38,000 acres of land and is projected to be active for 50 years. If DuPont is granted mining permits, some fear the swamp will be severely degraded by alteration of hydrological cycles and pollution. For more information, contact the Okefenokee Campaign, Sierra Club, 1447 Peachtree St., Suite 305, Atlanta, GA 30309.

Florida- Ken Sulak, Florida Caribbean Science Center (formerly Southeastern Fisheries Research Center, and then Southeastern Biological Science Center) has been able to identify at least one area in the Suwannee River where the Gulf sturgeon spawns. Ken and Jim Clugston have a manuscript under review for Transactions of the American Fisheries Society describing spawning periodicity and habitat of the Gulf sturgeon. This is the first documentation of such associations for the threatened Gulf sturgeon. Howard Jelks, also of the Florida Caribbean Science Center, is completing the umpteenth draft of the Okaloosa darter Recovery Plan, certainly the most revised fish plan in the southeast.

Noel Burkhead