USDA to inventory stream crossings in Johnson and Carter counties

Published 2:14 pm Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Crews from the USDA Forest Service will be inventorying stream crossings in and around the Cherokee National Forest from September 6 to September 17. The inventory is part of a larger Joint Chiefs’ Project that aims to improve culverts and other stream crossings to strengthen infrastructure, reduce flood risks, and improve habitat for native and endangered species.
“These local partnerships bring a lot of value to our county and everyone involved,” said Carter County Road Superintendent Roger Colbaugh. “This inventory effort will really help us to improve our roads and reduce the damage done by flooding.”
“I think this project will really be beneficial, especially to prevent future issues with flooding,” said Johnson County Highway Department Road Superintendent Jeff Wagner. “Anything to help the county is an asset.”
The inventory will be done in Johnson and Carter counties. The goal is to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the state of existing stream crossings to help prioritize efforts to improve infrastructure and habitat. The inventory is helpful in making sure future improvements are being made in the right places for maximum benefit for public safety and stream habitat.
The project is being supported by 17 cooperating agencies and organizations and is funded in part by Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and the Tallassee Fund. Forest Service staff will be doing the inventory itself.
The Cherokee National Forest is the largest tract of public land in Tennessee. It lies in the heart of the Southern Appalachian mountain range, one of the world’s most diverse areas. These mountains are home to more than 20,000 species of plants and animals, including aquatic at-risk species that will benefit from improved stream habitat. The Joint Chiefs’ Landscape Restoration Partnership for Aquatic Habitat for At-Risk Species in Eastern Tennessee Project is focused especially on the hellbender salamander, brook trout, and Tennessee dace.