GA: Restoring Raccoon Creek
Raccoon Creek in the Etowah River Watershed of Northwest Georgia is critical to the long-term survival of a variety of aquatic insects, and fish, including the federally endangered Etowah darter and threatened Cherokee darter, the lined chub, and the recreationally-fished redeye bass. But threats loom. The creek flows through Paulding County in Metro Atlanta, one of the country’s fastest growing areas prior to the recession. Agricultural practices and land clearing for development have degraded long stretches of the creek, making it more difficult for the fish to survive.
In an effort to minimize the threats and improve water quality, the Southeast Aquatic Resources Partnership (SARP), U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS), the National Fish Habitat Partnership (NFHAP) and several other partners provided funding and resources to restore one mile of Georgia Power right-of-way downstream from publicly protected lands. Local partners include The Nature Conservancy, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Paulding County, Georgia Power, Upper Coosa Riverkeeper, Georgia River Network, and Kennesaw State University. The project will establish a forested stream buffer, remove a seasonal fish passage barrier, and stabilize eroding stream banks. To evaluate the effectiveness of the restoration effort, the group is monitoring the changes in the water and habitat quality and numbers and types of fish.
The Raccoon Creek project is just one of 12 Aquatic Habitat Restoration Projects across the Southeast that SARP sponsored and collaborated on in 2011. SARP, a partnership of government agencies, conservation groups and private industries, identifies and implements restoration projects to protect and conserve the Southeast’s aquatic resources.