18th Annual Coal Creek Health Day

This year, known as
“Leave it to Beaver” Day!

26 October 2018




Our new Beaver friend "Red"


Event sponsored by
Schnabel Engineering
and the CCWF


Students from Briceville Elementary School assess the health of Coal Creek at this annual event by documenting what lives in it.  They have caught all sorts of critters over the past 17 years, but this was the first year they caught a beaver—students nicknamed him, “Red.”

As in the past, this year’s event was led by world-class experts from TVA, UT, and Clinch River Chapter Trout Unlimited.  The creek that gives the area its name, Coal Creek, runs beside Briceville School.  It's a living laboratory!!  Each class took a turn participating in a bioassay of Coal Creek.  An aquarium was filled with different species of fish collected today, along with an assortment of aquatic insects displayed in separate trays. Inside the gymnasium, students participated in fly tying and casting instructions.

Do you know which elementary school in Tennessee has participated in a fish restoration project?  We do, it’s called Briceville.

Bioassays conducted in the past show that Coal Creek rates as good in its diversity of aquatic insects, but only fair in its diversity of native fish species.  Insects can fly to repopulate Coal Creek as water quality has improved, but not fish.  The cold water of the Clinch River tailwater below Norris Dam appears to impede the natural recruitment of some missing warm-water species.

In 2007, Briceville students participated in an effort by aquatic biologists from UT, TVA, and TDEC to introduce rainbow darters, which should be present based on current water quality conditions as described at www.coalcreekaml.com/CoalCreekRestoration.htm.

Right on cue, young rainbow darters were again collected this year, indicating that natural reproduction is occurring.

With so many activities taking place at once, we always worry about having enough volunteers.  As always, the Clinch River Chapter of Trout Unlimited stepped up to the plate, along with our friends from UT and TVA. 

VIEW OVER 450 FABULOUS PICTURES AT:  https://www.flickr.com/gp/95516223@N08/D16bD5

Thanks so much to Briceville School Principal Travis Hutcheson, Tonya Roldan, and all the teachers for allowing us the pleasure of spending the day with their well-mannered students. And, don't forget the cafeteria ladies who fed us lunch and Bobby McCoy and Kippie Leinart whose famous shiny floors we got wet and muddy.

Coal Creek Scholars at Anderson County High School tell us that collecting fish and insects from the creek on Coal Creek Health Day remains their fondest memory of Briceville Elementary School.  Our fondest memory is seeing Briceville students excel in elementary school, middle school and high school, so they can go to college and become productive members of society. 

We call it Briceville School’s unbroken circle of success!!

Here is the list of species found in Coal Creek this year:

Bullhead Minnow
Striped Shiner
Central Stoneroller
Rock Bass
Smallmouth Bass
Greenside Darter
Snubnose Darter
Redline Darter
Rainbow Darter
Black Redhorse
Golden Redhorse
Green Sunfish
Northern Studfish
Northern Hogsucker
Scarlet Shiner
Bigeye Chub
Blacknose Dace

J. Brian Alford, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Fishery
Conservation & Management
The University of Tennessee
Dept. of Forestry, Wildlife,
and Fisheries

List of Volunteers:

Alford, Brian – UT Forestry, Wildlife, and Fisheries
Brown, Steve – Clinch River Trout Unlimited
Coombs, Joyce – UT - Forestry, Wildlife, and Fisheries
Douglas, Terry – Clinch River Trout Unlimited
Ferguson, Jim --- Clinch River Trout Unlimited
Fisher, Grant, -- UT Forestry, Wildlife, and Fisheries
Geiger, Dick – Clinch River Trout Unlimited
Hecke, Kyler, UT Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries
McMahan, Denny -
Clinch River Trout Unlimited
Mollish, Jon Michael -- TVA Fisheries
Moore, Carol – Coal Creek Watershed Foundation and Schnabel Engineering
Oates, Frances – Clinch River Trout Unlimited
Thacker, Barry – Coal Creek Watershed Foundation and Schnabel Engineering
Ward, Larry -- Clinch River Trout Unlimited


Terry Douglas making a "Girdle Bug"... the story is that men
would steal their wives' girdles and pull the small elastic
threads out of them to use to tie themselves a "girdle bug"

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