When the five man working group drafted the economic analysis for Riverine Alternatives to Tellico Dam we were tasked with creating suggestions for improving the Little T tailwater -- and told to use our imagination. I suggested that a spawning channel be constucted below Chilhowee Dam and in the process of discussing this it was noted that the Clinch could be improved by constructing a similar channel below Norris dam. Shallow , wide, optimal spawning flows at spawning times, overhead fenced and predator protected. Then managed for fry protection until fry moved to river naturally or otherwise. Basically diverting cleAr creek fish to a biologically welcoming home.
Frankly if the GAO Fish and Wildlife funding issues are not addressed successfully the spawning channel concept could come to be a viable alternative to improving fish counts in the river. Tva owns the land where the channels would be constructed and a relatively small amount of water is all that qould required to cover the channel.
There is already an enormous amount of spawning gravel stretches in the river and some fish appear to be successfully spawning there. In the really big picture however our claims of spawning fish could be thrown in our face as an excuse by TVA not to undertake the nearly one million dollar annual contribution for hatchery costs that FWS may no lomger make--theory being hatchery unnecessary if fish are surviving naturally.
There is not much question that the entire hatchery funding issue is the most critical issue facing all of us in Tenn that love the tailwater trout fishing. Not poaching ,water quality, or minimum flows. It will dramtically affect the trout world and fishing we currently enjoy. TU leaders and TWRA are trying to respond to this threat but it is a very complicated issue on political and legal fronts. "mitigation' is not a term that TVA appreciates at this time.