The Clinch and Powell Rivers  

diverImagine swimming and snorkeling in clear water and seeing a myriad of fish species, some as vividly colored as pictures you’ve seen from the tropics. As you glide along, you also see mussels, crayfish, and a variety of other creatures living among the nooks and crannies of the river. Sounds fascinating, doesn’t it? Believe it or not, you can have this kind of an experience here in the Appalachians: in the Clinch and Powell rivers of Virginia and Tennessee.

Upstream from Norris Lake in Tennessee, the Clinch and Powell River systems support one of the most special assemblages of freshwater animals in the world! The watersheds of these rivers also provide drinking water for over 100,000 people, and they have fantastic recreational opportunities. Believe it or not, these two rivers have the highest number of rare and imperiled species in North America, according to NatureServe.

mussels2Out of 222 native fish species in the entire Tennessee River system, which stretches from the mountains of Virginia, across Tennessee, and to the Ohio River, the Clinch and Powell rivers alone are home to 118. The mussel diversity is equally impressive: at least 45 species are found in the Clinch Powell; with at least one species found nowhere else in the world! Clearly, these free-flowing rivers are important to the conservation of the Earth’s natural diversity. By caring for and enjoying these rivers, we can pass on these treasures to future generations.

Enter the Initiative

The Clinch-Powell Clean Rivers Initiative (CPCRI) protects and restores water quality in our nation’s most important river system for imperiled freshwater animals by:

    • conducting cutting-edge science and river monitoring;
    • using science and monitoring results to help people, communities, governments, and industries take better care of the river;
    • fostering increased coordination among state and federal agencies responsible for protecting water quality in Virginia and Tennessee;
    • making strategic investments in freshwater conservation and restoration projects;
    • raising awareness of the Clinch Powell River system as a national model for collaborative and effective environmental management.

The initiative unites a broad array of groups and agencies working in both Tennessee and Virginia. Working as partners with shared goals and commitments, these agencies, non-profit organizations, and industry leaders have an unprecedented opportunity to help conserve and connect people to these rivers.

But we need your help. Please join our effort and contribute your talents to the long-lasting conservation of the globally important diversity in our own corner of the world. For questions and more information, contact us.