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Restoration of Critical Habitat for LIsted Mussels and Fish, Big South Fork NRRA, TN/KY

The Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area is a focus for major conservation efforts due to the outstanding aquatic features found in the Big South Fork of the Cumberland River. The park is also a favorite location for equestrian riders, cyclists, and hikers. Managing a park for such multiple uses, while conserving biodiversity, is wrought with challenges.

Partner(s): The Nature Conservancy Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency US Fish & Wildlife Service Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources National Park Service

South Fork Cumberland River -
Big South Fork NRRA, TN/KY

Description of Site:

  • 125,000 acres in north central Tennessee with 450 miles of trails.
  • 475 miles of streams with trails crossing at various points.
  • 128 fish species and 31 mussel species, of which 10 mussel species and three fish species are endangered.


  • Often trail crossings are in un-protected fording areas, resulting in crushed organisms, increased erosion and greater stream sediment load.


  • Delineate the corridor with slab rock.
    Unprotected fording areas threatened
    fish and mussels.
  • Create stream crossings hardened concrete planks running parallel to the stream bank, placed across the width of the stream
  • Utilize funding to purchase slab rock, tri-lock block and other materials.
  • Utilize volunteers to install purchased slab rock; utilize park crews to install tri-lock block.


  • Park monitoring efforts have documented a drastic reduction in the number of animals and plants crushed by user groups and decreased sediment load. The corridor is now clearly marked.
    Park visitors use newly-constructed
    stream crossings.
    Law enforcement action can be taken when users cross stream outside of the corridor.
  • Duskytail darter, an endangered fish, has been observed using the area since the rocks were placed. It may take the mussels a few years to occupy the new habitat.
  • Nine crossings are installed. Goal is 250 crossings.

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Name of barrier Latitude Longitude FONS ID FIS Project ID FWS Acc. #

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