Southeastern Fishes Council
Dedicated to the Conservation of Southeastern Fishes

Little Tennessee River Highway Project
Whereas the remaining free-flowing portion of the Little Tennessee River upstream of Fontana Reservoir in Macon and Swain counties, North Carolina, is one of few major rivers in the Blue Ridge physiographic province that retains most of its native fish fauna,

Whereas the Little Tennessee gorge presently constitutes the core of a forested corridor linking the Nantahala and Cowee mountain ranges,

Whereas this reach of the Little Tennessee River includes designated critical habitat for the federally threatened spotfin chub (Cyprinella monacha) and littlewing pearlymussel (Pegias fabula),

Whereas the Little Tennessee River population of spotfin chub is the largest of four known populations, the only one extant in North Carolina, and the source of stock for reintroduction of this species into Abrams Creek, Tennessee,

Whereas the Little Tennessee River is inhabited by several other species of conservation concern, including endangered, threatened and listed candidate species of freshwater mussels and the hellbender (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis),

Whereas the fauna of the Little Tennessee River is still imperfectly known (viz., the discovery in 1993 of an undescribed sucker, the sicklefin redhorse, and the discovery in 1994 of the second known North Carolina population of the stonecat, (Notunis flavus),

Whereas the river also constitutes a major recreational and aesthetic resource, including the Needmore area where the Little Tennessee River flows for twelve miles with no highway crossings and no riparian development, reaching widths of up to 300 feet--a situation virtually unmatched in southern Appalachia,