By KEN BECK
GALLATIN -- In the palms of his wet hands, David Sims proudly nestles orange-footed pimpelback, sheepnose and pink mucket mussels.
All three are endangered freshwater mussels, and for the past six years Sims has being doing everything in his power to boost their population at the Cumberland River Aquatic Center (CRAC), allowing him to relocate them by the thousands into Tennessee rivers.
In 10 abandoned raceways that lay in the shadows of the twin stacks at Tennessee Valley Authoritys Gallatin Steam Plant, the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agencys Region II Aquatic Habitat Protection Biologist nurtures about a dozen species of mussels, seven of them endangered.
These critters are pretty amazing, said Sims, who is passionate about the bivalves. No other species are more endangered in the world than the freshwater mussels. Weve already lost about a third of them Once its extinct, its gone.
By ANNE PAINE and KEN BECK
For MainStreet Media
A successful nursery for endangered mussels and fish at TVAs Gallatin Steam Plant on the Cumberland River is being forced to shut down to make way for a different kind of environmental project.
A $1 billion air pollution control addition at the 1950s-era, coal-fired plant must go on the land where the aquatic center lies, according to the Tennessee Valley Authority. TVA has told the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency to vacate the site by March, leaving the future of the mussel-, lake sturgeon- and alligator gar-raising operation uncertain.
We are in the process of moving all the animals from that facility and finding them new homes, said David McKinney, TWRA environmental sciences chief.
Equipment from the Cumberland River Aquatic Center that can be salvaged will be moved to the agencys Old Hickory Wildlife Management Area, he said. But there will be serious restrictions related to water and electricity availability, and any new start up center would be scaled back from the shoestring operation it already was.
Anda Ray, a TVA senior vice president, said the power producer has no obligation to the wildlife agency that six years ago took over and rehabbed an abandoned and dilapidated fish hatchery on the plant property.
A contract stipulated that the power producer could require the wildlife agency to leave at any time and would move at its own expense, she said, adding that all decisions have been TWRAs both coming and going.
Veteran educator and native Wilson Countian Nancy Ash has been hired as the Associate Director of Schools/Director of Teaching and Learning for the Lebanon Special Schools District.
She replaces Dr. Jeanne Barker who was hired recently as the Lenoir City Director of Schools.
We are excited to have Nancy join our leadership team," LSSD Director of Schools Scott Benson said late last week.
FOUR REACH DOUBLE FIGURES --
SPENCER -- Watertown went on a 15-0 run to start the fourth quarter and rolled to a 74-56 win Thursday night at Van Buren County. Coach Matt Bradshaw's team improved to 10-0 overall headed into a Saturday home game vs. East Robertson.