The Nashville Crayfish and other aquatic species have new habitats to explore! Nashville Zoo, in collaboration with the Cumberland River Compact, Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency, and KCI Technologies Inc., removed two dams on Cathy Jo Branch.
“There is a large drive by biologists, NGO’s along with Federal and state wildlife agencies to remove non-essential dams. Dam removal allows for the migration of aquatic species which were previously blocked by dams within a watershed and improves aquatic biodiversity,” said Dale McGinnity, Ectotherm Curator.
The dams located on Zoo property created a barrier to crayfish, small fish and other small aquatic life which prevented the migration of aquatic species upstream and reduced the biodiversity of the aquatic systems. These dam removals opened up three miles of habitat and transformed the stream into a free-flowing system again.
The team captured and relocated a total of 33 crayfish and 34 other aquatic critters, including salamanders, frogs and darters, to ensure the safety of the animals inhabiting the area around the dams. Native trees, shrubs, and two foot pieces of tree that will root and grow into trees and help to stabilize the soil will also be planted along the stream banks of the disturbed area.
“The Cumberland River Compact appreciates its partnership with the Nashville Zoo. The Zoo’s staff and their local conservation efforts have made significant contributions to Nashville’s environmental health,” said Mekayle Houghton, Executive Director of Cumberland River Compact. “Most recently, the Compact worked with the Zoo to remove two outmoded dams on the Zoo property. Water now flows freely from the Cumberland River, upstream to Mill Creek and into the Zoo property through a small tributary stream called Cathy Jo. The federally endangered Nashville Crayfish, endemic to Mill Creek, now has access to ten miles of creek and improved habitat.”
The crew removed two concrete dams by cutting out the concrete in small pieces.
During the removal process, Nashville Zoo staff did a sweep of the area for crayfish and other aquatic species.
BEFORE - Looking upstream at the second dam.
AFTER - Looking upstream at the previous site of second dam.
You can learn more about the Zoo Stormwater Management Project and the partnership between Nashville Zoo and Cumberland River Compact on their website: https://www.cumberlandrivercompact.org/our-work/stormwater-management/