The Lower Clinch Watershed covers 630 square miles in east Tennessee. Over 200 of the 800 stream miles within the watershed are listed as impaired by the state of Tennessee due to excessive nutrients, pathogens, siltation and alteration of streamside vegetation.
Agriculture is an important source of impairment. Farms with overgrazed pastures and unrestricted livestock access to streams are a major source of impairment, yet only 10 percent of farmers in the watershed are estimated to participate in National Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) and other Best Management Practice (BMP) programs. BMPs such as pasture renovation, livestock exclusion fencing, rotational grazing, alternative watering systems, and riparian buffers, would provide significant benefits for the watershed health.
In addition to being the source of drinking water for 67,000 people and 24,000 head of livestock, the Lower Clinch Watershed contains areas that have been recognized at the state and/or national level for outstanding scenic, recreational, geologic, aquatic/wildlife, and historic and cultural values. The watershed supports at least 10 federally-listed aquatic species and many more state-listed aquatic endangered and threatened species.
Local coalitions have had varying levels of success working to improve natural resources in four Lower Clinch Subwatersheds. Bullrun Creek Restoration Partnership recently received the Tennessee Wildlife Federation’s Water Conservationist of the Year Award. Beaver Creek is an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region IV priority watershed. Recently, these local coalitions have come together to form the Lower Clinch Watershed Council (LCWC). Current
LCWC goals include strengthening existing initiatives and forming local coalitions throughout the remainder of the watershed. Creation of a Rapid Watershed Assessment (RWA) will allow LCWC, stakeholders, producers, and partners to look at the entire watershed objectively to identify and prioritize resource concerns. NRCS conservation practices will then be matched with identified priority needs, and additional funds will be leveraged to achieve resource improvements.
If you would like to attend a Lower Clinch Watershed Council meeting or would like more information, please contact Parci Gibson at 865-215-5861 or firstname.lastname@example.org