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Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency
Ellington Agricultural Center
440 Hogan Road
Nashville, TN 37220
(615) 781-6500
Conservation Projects and News

What is Citizen Science and Why Should I Do It?

There is a fabulous metallic green beetle flitting around on the ground right next to where you have sat down for a rest from your hike. “What is that incredible insect?” You wonder. “Is it rare? If I catch it on my iPhone’s camera, will I ever be able to find someone to ID ... read more >>

What about Everything Else? The Tennessee State Parks 2019 Bioblitz on iNaturalist

Tennessee State Parks mission begins with these words: “To preserve and protect…” This is a mission we carry out with passion and zeal. We’re often asked the question, “What are we protecting, what is this flower, what is this insect?” As an agency that manages ... read more >>

Calling all Amphibian Fanatics: The Tennessee Amphibian Monitoring Program

If you are a good listener, can identify birds by their songs, or have a good ear for music, AND you love frogs and toads, you need to know about the Tennessee Amphibian Monitoring Program (TAMP). TAMP is the herpetological equivalent of “birding by ear.” A joint venture between the ... read more >>

Managing Chronic Wasting Disease in Tennessee

Something momentous happened to Tennessee’s wildlife in late 2018, and not in a good way. “In December 2018, Tennessee became the 26th state to detect chronic wasting disease (CWD) within its borders. The initial detections were a result of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency’s ... read more >>

Introducing Hidden Rivers, a film unlike any you’ve ever seen

OFFICIAL PREMIERE to be held at the TENNESSEE AQUARIUM in Chattanooga. April 4, 2019: 6pm reception in the theater lobby, 7 p.m. IMAX screening and a post-film discussion with the film’s producer. ADMISSION: $20 for members, $25 non-members. Includes an exhibition of the aquatic photos of ... read more >>

When the Heart of a Park is a little Boy: Jacob’s Nature Park at Sinking Creek

Jacob’s Nature Park at Sinking Creek in Johnson City is a testament to community in the wake of tragedy. In 2004, a lively little boy named Jacob Luis Francisco who loved nature and climbing trees became suddenly ill with a malady that stumped his doctors. Tragically, Jacob could not be saved from ... read more >>

Facebook for Fish

Despite the unparalleled diversity of aquatic life in the Southeast, the millions of people who make use of the region’s rivers, lakes and streams may have no idea how many species they share the water with. Lack of awareness is a serious problem When it comes to inspiring others to protect ... read more >>

Golden Eagle Migration Path

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is conducting research on Golden Eagles wintering in Tennessee as part of a large project across the Appalachian Mountains, coordinated through the Eastern Golden Eagle Working Group. Research is designed to document occurrences of Eastern Golden Eagles on ... read more >>

Conservation Fisheries, Inc.

Conservation Fisheries, Inc. (CFI) is a nonprofit in Knoxville “dedicated to the preservation of aquatic biodiversity in the Southeast U.S.” that works to conserve nongame fish through captive propagation, reintroduction, and low impact monitoring. CFI has been involved in the Tennessee ... read more >>

Recovering America’s Wildlife Act: A Game Changer for Conservation that Includes You

On July 17, 2018 the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (RAWA) was introduced in the Senate by Senators Alexander (R-TN), Manchin (D-WV), Risch (R-ID), and Heitkamp (D-ND). RAWA, as it is known, is a bill that will redirect $1.3 billion in existing royalties annually from the development of energy ... read more >>

TWRA Hosts the 2018 Annual Bat Blitz in the Southeast

A blitz can be defined as a sudden, energetic, and concerted effort, typically on a specific task. So what does a blitz have to do with wildlife conservation? Blitzes can be used to gather a considerable amount of information pertaining to species occurrences and abundance through concentration of ... read more >>

Attracted to Beauty in the Tennessee River Basin

“We’re all attracted to beauty.” So begins the trailer for a film more than five years in the making. Now, thanks to the enthusiastic support of 76 people who saw the work-in-progress at a meeting held in August 2017, this stunning film will soon be completed. A project of the ... read more >>

The Formation of a Plant Conservation Alliance in Tennessee

There has been a growing need for more collaborative efforts to save our native at-risk plants from local extinction. The loss or degradation of habitat from threats like rapid population growth and development, spread of invasive species, incompatible land uses, and climate change are real and increasing. ... read more >>

Assessing the Status of Green Salamanders in Tennessee and Beyond

The Green Salamander (Aneides aeneus) is a cryptic species of lungless salamander that is rarely encountered in Tennessee. The species is a habitat specialist whose primary habitat is along sandstone rock outcroppings where they are found inside of narrow crevices. The species is occasionally found ... read more >>

The Land Trust for Tennessee: Conserving Places that Matter

The Land Trust for Tennessee, founded in 1999, is approaching its 20th anniversary. Like many land trusts, they began their work by responding to conservation opportunities and as a result, have received accreditation from the Land Trust Alliance for their proven track record to conserve important ... read more >>

Helping the Nashville Crayfish Persist in an Urban Setting

The Nashville Crayfish (Orconectes shoupi) is an endemic species to the Mill Creek Watershed, located in Davidson and Williamson Counties. It can be distinguished from other crayfish species by their elongated pincers with red tips and the light colored saddle on its back. Because the Nashville Crayfish ... read more >>

Tennessee Plant Conservation Alliance Fellow Update

Shelby Meckstroth participated in many plant conservation projects led by the Tennessee Plant Conservation Alliance (TNPCA) in 2017-2018. She worked under the guidance of Dr. Jon Evans as a post-baccalaureate fellow in the Sewanee Herbarium at the University of the South, thanks to support from an Oak ... read more >>

Grasslands Advocate Wins Conservationist of the Year 2018

After years of science pointing to the dire state of grasslands worldwide, the TWF award puts southeastern grasslands squarely on the conservation agenda. The Tennessee Wildlife Federation, one of the largest and oldest nonprofits dedicated to the conservation of Tennessee's wildlife and natural ... read more >>

Bird Conservation in Tennessee 2018

Tennessee is lucky to have a bird conservation coordinator employed by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. David Hanni has his finger on the pulse of all things bird conservation-related in Tennessee. He recently provided this overview of the status of birds in Tennessee as well as current research ... read more >>

The Horror of Snake Fungal Disease for our Snakes

Here’s something strange that people in middle and eastern Tennessee have begun to see: rattlesnakes coming out to sun themselves on rocks in the dead of winter. For a rattler that is supposed to be hibernating underground through the coldest part of the year, that can be deadly. In fact, ... read more >>

Snake Fungal Disease and other wildlife pathogens: What is the cure?

In Tennessee and other states across the Eastern U.S., Snake Fungal Disease (SFD) is part of a larger pattern of virulent infectious diseases in natural wildlife populations that have been increasing in recent years, leading to significant animal die-offs and even extinctions. “SFD is eerily similar ... read more >>

Endemic Bladderpods-Unusual and endemic rare plant species

Paysonia perforata (Spring Creek Bladderpod) and Paysonia stonensis (Stones River Bladderpod) are herbaceous annuals of the Brassicaceae, or mustard, family. Both of these delicate white flowers with floating seed pods are rare plant species endemic to the Central Basin of Tennessee. Spring ... read more >>

The Tennessee Wildlife Legacy Plan-Integrating wildlife and human needs

Tim Churchill, chief of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency’s federal aid and real estate division, knows that as the most diverse inland state in the U.S., Tennessee has many high priority, competing needs for protecting land. With data from the 2015 updated State Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP) ... read more >>

Sherwood Forest-Partnerships Protecting Vast Biodiversity in the Cumberlands

Sherwood Forest - the name alone inspires visions of green woodlands of deepening shadows, craggy corners, and discoveries hidden. In the southeastern limits of Franklin County, near the Alabama state line, Tennessee has found its own Sherwood Forest. The new Sherwood Forest is a roughly ... read more >>

Documenting Success: Cumberland Sandwort monitoring and education for hikers and climbers

Except for a few counties atop the Cumberland Plateau along the Tennessee and Kentucky border, Cumberland Sandwort (Minuartia cumberlandensis) exists nowhere else in the world. This diminutive plant occurs underneath moist ledges of towering sandstone cliffs and has been the focus of attention since ... read more >>

Roaring River Dam Becomes Largest in TN Ever to be Removed for Restoration

A lot has changed on the Roaring River since its designation in 1968 as a state scenic river. Jack Swearengin should know. A lifelong resident of Jackson County and a fisheries biologist for the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, he saw the Roaring River ... read more >>

Pale Lilliput Juvenile Mussels Raised to Create Two New Wild Populations

Pale Lilliput (Toxolasma cylindrellus) is a critically endangered species. It is facing an extremely high risk of extinction in Tennessee. In 2016, 10 gravid female mussels were collected from a small tributary of the Duck River by Mr. Don Hubbs, the State Mollusk Recovery Program Coordinator. They ... read more >>

Water Stitchwort Surveys Indicate A Species Well Adapted to Survive

Of all the rare vascular plants in Tennessee, Water Stitchwort (Stellaria fontinalis) is one of the most under-appreciated. While individual plants are not anything spectacular, in large populations the lime green patches look like a luxuriant moss cascading down a seepy bluff. This winter annual of ... read more >>

Endangered Alabama Lampmussel Returns to the Elk River

Like many Tennessee drainage rivers, the Elk River once supported a highly diverse mussel fauna of at least 61 species (this level of diversity now persists only in the Duck and Clinch rivers). The Elk River originates on the western edge of the Cumberland Plateau in south-central Tennessee and ... read more >>

Searching for the Rare White Fringeless Orchid

The highlight of many a wildflower excursion arrives when participants find one of the fifty orchids native to Tennessee. Through the Rare Plant Protection and Conservation Act administered by TDEC’s Division of Natural Areas, a number of orchids are state-listed, including the state-endangered ... read more >>

What is happening to the Alligator Snapping Turtle in Tennessee?

The Alligator Snapping Turtle (Macrochelys temminckii) is an apex predator species found in the Mississippi and Tennessee River drainages of Middle and West Tennessee. However, this species may be succumbing to another apex predator: man. These freshwater turtles are declining dramatically throughout ... read more >>

Stewardship of Tennessee Yellow-eyed Grass, one of the rarest plants in Tennessee

Xyris tennesseensis is a plant that was only discovered in 1978 but by 1991 had been listed as federally endangered. Part of the reason for its listing is its extremely limited distribution, with populations currently known only from one county in Tennessee, four in Alabama, and three in Georgia. Dr. R. ... read more >>

Bringing Back the Lost Grasslands of the Mississippi Embayment

The Southeastern Grasslands Initiative (SGI) is a new effort to lead integrated grassland conservation across much of the southeastern and south-central U.S. (Fig. 1). Led by Dr. Dwayne Estes, a biologist at Austin Peay State University's Center of Excellence for Field Biology in Tennessee and Theo ... read more >>

The Tennessee Purple Coneflower: Poster Child for Endangered Species and a Recovery Success Story

The Tennessee purple coneflower (Echinacea tennesseensis) is found in only three counties in Tennessee: Davidson, Rutherford and Wilson. The species is endemic to the Cedar Glades and Barrens in the Central Basin and was first found in the 1870s and described as a species in 1898. In 1979, Tennessee ... read more >>

Big Swan Headwaters Conserved for Future Generations

In May 2017, the Swan Conservation Trust (SCT) and the Tennessee Parks and Greenways Foundation (TennGreen) announced the placement of a Conservation Easement on more than 1,300 acres of forested land adjacent to "The Farm Community" in southeastern Lewis County. The conservation easement is ... read more >>

Loggerhead Shrike in Tennessee: A species focus at a landscape scale

The Loggerhead Shrike, along with many other grassland bird species, has been declining rapidly having lost an estimated 74% of its population between 1970-2014. The 2016 Partners in Flight Landbird Conservation Plan identifies the Loggerhead Shrike as a "common grassland species in steep ... read more >>

Demographic monitoring and population dynamics of Pyne’s Ground-plum

One of Tennessee's rarest plants grows naturally only within Rutherford County on limestone cedar glades. Pyne's Ground-plum (Astragalus bibullatus) is a member of the pea family and was rediscovered in Tennessee by former Tennessee Natural Heritage Program botanist, Milo Pyne in 1979. It had first ... read more >>

Plant habitat management of the Central Basin's Cedar Glades and Barrens

The Central Basin of Tennessee is one of the most unique physiographic provinces in the state, with habitats ranging from oak-hickory forest to cedar glades and barrens. Characterized by thin soil and exposed limestone bedrock, cedar glades and barrens can seem inhospitable; however, they are home to ... read more >>

State Wildlife Grants: Where would states be without them?

State Wildlife Grants are arguably one of the most obscure, but also one of the most important programs aimed at “keeping common species common.” The State & Tribal Wildlife Grants Program, commonly referred to as SWG (pronounced swig), was established by Congress in 2000. To receive ... read more >>

Gray Bat monitoring in 2017 demonstrates the success of recovery efforts in Tennessee

In February 2017, inside Rattlin' Pit Cave in Cocke County, Tennessee, TWRA wildlife survey managers and a representative from the Southeastern Cave Conservancy located an estimated 85,955 hibernating Gray bats, along with four Tri-colored bats, and two Big Brown bats. This Gray Bat count means that the ... read more >>

Eagle Scout bat box project makes lasting impact, provides long-term roosting habitat for Tennessee bat species

Volunteer opportunities within the Wildlife and Fisheries Division of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency are available to those individuals who want to gain experience working for wildlife. Austin Berg, an Eagle Scout, recently completed a project by building bat boxes for the Wildlife Diversity ... read more >>

Seeing the world like a Tri-colored Bat assists long-term recovery efforts of this rapidly declining species

We are living at a time when human travel is easier and quicker than ever before. You can book a flight today and be anywhere in the world tomorrow. Unfortunately, this ease of travel has allowed humans to inadvertently spread bacteria and spores around the world and introduce harmful pathogens into ... read more >>

Golden Eagle monitoring with GPS transmitters reveals eagle use of habitat in Tennessee during winter and migration routes

Following the conclusion of hunting season, TWRA biologists descend upon the woods with trail cameras to continue the agency’s monitoring of the Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos). These efforts began in middle Tennessee in 2013 to determine the occurrence of the species on the state’s ... read more >>

Nashville Zoo Raises Alligator Snapping Turtles from Hatchlings

In September 2016, TWRA flew in 30 hatchling Alligator Snapping Turtles from Tishomingo National Fish Hatchery in Oklahoma to the Nashville Zoo. In a safe environment, the turtles will be raised at the zoo for three years before releasing them back into the wild. Often confused with ... read more >>

Alligator Snapping Turtle Assessments in West Tennessee

To overcome the incomplete distribution of alligator snapping turtles (ASTs) in West Tennessee, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) is conducting systematic and thorough sampling of ASTs found in tributaries of the Mississippi River. It is hoped that valuable information regarding ... read more >>

Projects to Restore/Create Early Successional Habitat in East Tennessee

The goal of this early successional habitat project is to restore early successional habitat on public lands maintained by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency within administrative Region 4. Ongoing work includes the restoration of early successional habitats on multiple Wildlife Management Areas ... read more >>

Fair Market Conservation Incentives for Private Landowners in the Elk River Watershed Conservation Opportunity Area

Guided by Tennessee's State Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP) data, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency identified the Elk River watershed as a priority for improving water quality. The elimination of riparian habitat along the Elk River and tributaries over the years has degraded water quality, so TWRA ... read more >>

The Eastern Hellbenders of Tennessee: A Species Indicative of Good Water Quality Provides a Focus for Conservation Statewide

Perhaps no other species in Tennessee is more emblematic of the widespread, interacting, and complex mix of threats posed by society to healthy aquatic systems than the Eastern Hellbender (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis alleganiensis). Picturesquely dubbed "The Last Dragons" in a 2014 film produced ... read more >>

Intensive Management for Early Successional Habitat, Guided by the Needs of a Declining Bird Species in the N. Cherokee Conservation Opportunity Area

The birdwatchers and fishermen who visit Hampton Creek Cove State Natural Area in the Southern Appalachians may not realize the degree of collaboration and management that goes into maintaining this ecological gem. Hampton Creek Cove (HCC) is a popular birding destination owned by the Tennessee Department ... read more >>

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