Today marks the last day of my AmeriCorps year, and what a year it’s been! I’ve been so lucky to work with many amazing volunteers, students, and of course our founding director Monette, as well as the staff of our partner organization Harpeth Conservancy. While this year definitely did not go as planned, I am so impressed with the ability of RCWA, Harpeth, and all of our partners to be flexible in the face of so many unprecedented challenges (a tornado and a global pandemic!). I learned so much about the Richland Creek watershed, as well as water conservation in Middle Tennessee and the amazing work that has been done to protect and preserve one of our most precious resources.

I am especially proud of the work of our student partner groups, both at Nashville State Community College and the School for Science and Math at Vanderbilt. This year threw a wrench in all our plans, and I am amazed by the flexibility and maturity that our student groups showed. At Nashville State, we were able to work with Dr. Jessica Rabb to begin a Riparian Renewal project along a Richland Creek tributary on their campus. We also worked with two groups of students at SSMV, and despite their term being cut short due to COVID-19, our senior group made us an amazing PSA about why it’s important to #grabthelitter (check it out here)!

 It’s been an incredible year, and I’m so grateful to RCWA and AmeriCorps for giving me this opportunity. I look forward to seeing what is in store for RCWA’s bright future!



Dear Friends of Richland Creek,

As the Founding Director of Richland Creek Watershed Alliance, it has been an honor to spend the past 13 years focusing on the environmental sustainability of the watershed and providing leadership for long-term restoration and preservation of the Richland Creek ecosystem.

Together we have accomplished many things, including:

  • Planting over 2,100 trees along the river to stabilize the riverbanks
  • Removing over 51 TONS of litter (and launching our #grabthelitter campaign this past year)
  • Resolving a flood plain dispute between St. Thomas and Metropolitan Nashville that changed the ordinance to protect ALL steams
  • Conducting numerous long-term studies for irrigation, wildlife, and water quality resulting in more biodiversity as well as better water quality and irrigation usage.
  • Intervening in a 2014 oil spill into the Richland Creek to ensure proper clean up
  • Helping several neighbors and members of the watershed (like you!) with water related issues
  • Creating the WE story (Watershed Education), so that people understand how vital our watersheds are and why protecting them is critical.
  • …and much more! 

Having led the organization with many of you, the longevity of our mission is near and dear to my heart. As I mentioned in my letter at the end of the year, we have been working together with Harpeth Conservancy to ensure this longevity.  As I retire as Director and take a step back from the day to day operations, I am confident that RCWA will continue to move forward to protect Richland Creek, its watershed, and its ecosystem.  It is exciting to join forces with a larger organization, so that we can do more together.  As a consultant, I will continue to advise and support work both on Richland Creek and throughout the waterways of Tennessee. I’m excited to continue to ensure consistency and attention with all we have worked to protect for these past years.

As I start to enjoy a bit of retirement, I want to say a HUGE thank you to all of those who have supported my journey as we have grown this organization.  I could NOT have done it without your kindness and generosity, and we cannot continue to do it without your continued support!  You can contact any of the team members at Harpeth Conservancy while I am in vacation.  We are excited about continuing to work with you on protecting Richland Creek and all of our rivers in Tennessee.

Warm Regards –
 
Monette Rebecca
RCWA Founding Director 



The spotted (black) bass Micropterus punctulatus is one of many species of freshwater fish RCWA documented 2009-2010 in Richland Creek, Nashville, Tennessee.

As an organization, we have always focused on enacting change on a local level. We are here to protect Richland Creek, and its watershed; this can seem like an issue that is based solely in Nashville, but it is in fact widespread. It is important to remember that our impacts on local watersheds have lasting ramifications beyond our communities. Those of us living in a watershed are the only ones who can make it better; it is on us to change our behaviors and understanding. 

Loss of Dissolved Oxygen

A new report that was published by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature following the 2019 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (or COP25) found that dissolved oxygen in world’s oceans has dropped by nearly 2% in the last 50 years. Dissolved oxygen is vital to the ocean’s functions and marine life, and even a seemingly incremental change of 2% has profound and devastating impacts on the planet as a whole. The ocean is an important part of planetary cycling of elements like nitrogen and phosphorous, which are essential to life on earth. As dissolved oxygen in the ocean decreases, these cycles will be interrupted, resulting in catastrophic consequences worldwide. As Dr. Dan Laffoley, the editor of the report, puts it: “we lower these oxygen levels at our peril.” (Kendra-Louis, NYT)

A colorful depiction created by NOAA illustrating the two main sources of pollution causing the Gulf Dead Zone. The two main causes are cities and farm(red and green respectively).

There are two main contributing factors to this loss of dissolved oxygen: climate change and direct human activity. The most impactful human activity is nitrogen and phosphorous runoff, which is brought into the ocean through watersheds. A watershed is the land area that drains water into our waterways. Water is a dynamic force that interacts with the land around it, and how that land is used affects not just local water quality, but that of the entire planet. When humans use fertilizer on our farms and lawns, the excess runs off and enters our waterways. This runoff joins larger streams and rivers, and eventually flows into the ocean. Once these excess nutrients enter the ocean, they cause massive algae blooms, which quickly grow and then just as quickly die. As the algae dies, it is decomposed by bacteria, which uses up the dissolved oxygen as part of the decomposition process. In a normal, balanced system, the rate of algal death and decomposition is slow enough that the oxygen used by tbe bacteria can be replaced. When massive, runoff-induced blooms happen, however, decomposition occurs on such a scale that the water is stripped of dissolved oxygen. This in turn causes other marine life such as fish to die, and disrupts nutrient cycles that are vital to the function of our planet. 

The Good News is…Each and Every One of Us Can Make it Better!

One important change we can make is to use natural fertilizer such as compost or other organic products instead of purchasing and using chemical nitrogen or phosphorous fertilizers. Remember, if you do use these chemical products more is not better; plants can only absorb so much nitrogen or phosphorous at a time. The rest is wasted and flushed into our waters, and eventully the ocean!

In order to save our oceans, we need to develop a universal understanding of how a watershed functions and how our behaviors can have a lasting impact (negative or positive!) on our waters here and worldwide. This necessity led RCWA to create the WE Story, a watershed education tool designed to teach about our watersheds and how we are part of then. We can change our behaviors to save our local waterways and our planet! To learn more, please visit richlandcreek.org/we/, or come to one of our WE Story presentations! Check richlandcreek.org/events to see our upcoming events, including WE Story presentations and volunteer opportunities.

Actions You Can Take At Home

  • Use natural fertilizers!
  • Make compost at home, instead of using chemical fertilizers
  • If you choose to use chemical fertizers, please only dispense the recommended amount!
  • Catch runoff with a rain garden or permeable pavers
  • Learn about watersheds! 

Sources & Additional Reading

By Katin Liphart



Hi y’all! My name is Katin Liphart and I am the new AmeriCorps member serving with the Richland Creek Watershed Alliance as the Watershed Education and Renewal Coordinator for the next year.  I am excited to work with the Riparian Renewal Program to help restore and protect the habitat of Richland Creek, as well as to reach out to and engage with the community through educational and volunteer events. You will also be seeing me on social media, so give us a like (social media links are on the right of this page) or leave a comment and say hello! I am so excited to get to know this community and watershed.

I have always been passionate about the communities around me, whether they be human or the natural communities that nourish us all and the places we live, work and visit. I grew up in Hawai’i and Northern Wisconsin, and my connections with the Pacific Ocean and Lake Superior led me to study science and taught me the ways water flows through our environment and our lives. I became involved with watershed management in high school, and was particularly fascinated by the intersection between science and policy. I continued that passion into college where I studied political science, environmental science, and biology at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota.

Through my studies, I became actively involved in community-based conservation programs, and continued to nurture my two loves: environmental science and policy. I studied abroad with the nonprofit Round River Conservation in Patagonia, where we helped establish a connection between local gaucho ranchers and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that has greatly increased data sharing and expanded the scientific knowledge of threatened species there. I was also given the opportunity to increase my knowledge of policy through an internship at the U.S. Senate, which gave me insight into the political process and a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities inherent to government work. I graduated from Carleton with a Political Science degree in 2017, and then spent time travelling and continuing my undergraduate thesis research before settling back in Minnesota.

I wanted to serve as an AmeriCorps Member in Nashville Tennessee, and did so through the Hands On Nashville AmeriCorps Program. AmeriCorps is a federally-funded community service organization that works with thousands of people across the country to serve with nonprofit organizations. In fact, my cohort of Hands On Nashville alone has recruited almost 20 members, many of which are serving for environmental nonprofit organizations here! The AmeriCorps mission is to build capacity and increase volunteerism within communities. My personal mission is to work with the Richland Creek community and contribute to RCWA’s goals for leaving a lasting and positive impact on this vital watershed. I am so excited to work with you all and help meet these goals!

See y’all out there!

Katin



Riparian corridors are critical for maintaining a thriving waterway and healthy ecosystem. Riparian renewal to the rescue!

The riparian corridor

The word “riparian” came to English from the source that gave us “river” – the Latin riparius, a noun deriving from ripa, meaning “bank” or “shore.” “Riparian” refers to things existing alongside a river, such as riparian wetlands, habitats and trees.

Nowadays, we just call them the river or stream bank—the land and plant ecology next to waterways. The size and quality of these waterway banks, how it’s used or if is its left undisturbed, defines how well the natural purpose and functionality of these specialized lands are preserved.

With the growing amount of hard surfaces by more development recently, more stormwater is quickly being drained into our waterways, with less going in the ground to recharge our springs. We’ve observed erosion, sedimentation and tree loss becoming a rapidly worsening problem on Richland Creek the last few years.

A riparian area along Richland Creek in Nashville.

A RIPARIAN AREA ALONG RICHLAND CREEK IN NASHVILLE.

Wildlife habitat

Riparian corridors naturally support stream habitats and provide food, shelter and movement for many species of wildlife. These land and water habitats support numerous critters, big and small. The tree canopy next to a stream helps maintain a cool temperature for fish and aquatic life, supporting heatlthy dissolved oxygen levels for them.

Riparian land is naturally a biodiverse landscape, where many kinds of plants exist to support the food web—aquatic, subaquatic, terrestrial and avian life. The specialized corridor provides wildlife the ability to move up and downstream, and travel between water and land. Wildlife uses riparian lands to nest, forage and hunt for food, complete their life cycle, or as a stopover during migration cycles.

This special land is beautiful, purposeful and an asset to our community, providing flood control measures and clean water. We get a more pleasant experience, walking or running by these habitats too. We want to protect the riparian land by saving the old trees remaining and plant native trees for the future.

Erosion control and more

The roots of trees and other riparian vegetation stabilize stream banks, and the water drains through bottomland soil, filtering out pollution. The riparian area is not only a habitat, but the roots of the plants in the corridor also serve to reduce erosion and sedimentation. Altogether, it maintains a defined, free-flowing channel, while providing mitigation for stormwater and flash flooding.

Why do we need riparian renewal?

Renewal means to support and improve the natural beauty, quality, and function. Our intent for renewing riparian habitats is to support a friendlier environment to water, wildlife, trees and the community.

We’ve been invaded

Our riparian habitats have been taken over by invasive plants, diminishing the natural function, health, quality of the riparian habitat. Very few native species are able to live or even sprout with these three, mostly evergreen invasive plants dominating the habitat. wintercreeper (a variety of vines known as euonymus), bush honeysuckle and Chinese privet have thrived in our riparian habitats and left little chance for native trees and plants to have space, sunshine or nutrients.

The most intensive of these invasives is appropriately called wintercreeper. It begins as a groundcover then grows to become a large, woody vine, climbing up the bark of the old trees, infesting its canopy. This causes disease and weakening of the old trees. We’ve observed many have fallen, succumbing to the creeper takeover. We needed to step in and try to reverse this invasive pattern.

Because of the overwhelming challenge caused by these invasive plants, RCWA engaged a specialized contractor, Invasive Plant Control, Inc (IPC) to help us out. We brought a team in to drag out the invasive plants that IPC cuts and treats. Our partner, Metro Parks, graciously takes the cut brush off to recycle! After that, we implement several more volunteer projects to complete the invasive plant control process, like removing groundcover, and planting native trees in the renewed habitats.

Before and after RCWA's riparian renewal effort.

BEFORE AND AFTER RCWA’S RIPARIAN RENEWAL EFFORT.

Since our efforts began, we’ve noticed several positive changes in the habitats where renewal work has been conducted. The old trees are now freed from the choking winter creeper vine, and can offer birds a perch with a view to hunt the forest floor. Better air circulation is detected, and the sun now dapples through and provides energy to the trees and soil below. We have a view of the creek now, and can feel a fresh breeze as we walk by. We can easily observe how the renewal work is improving the experience and the environment for people, wildlife, trees and Richland Creek.

REPLACING INVASIVE SPECIES WITH NATIVE TREES AS PART OF THE RIPARIAN RENEWAL PROCESS.

Our most recent Riparian Renewal project on Richland Creek is a glimpse of the transforming effect this work is having on the habitat. Look for our upcoming volunteer opportunities to remove the winter creeper remaining on the ground, so trees are not infested all over again, and help us plant native trees back where old ones once lived. We plant species that naturally occur in Middle Tennessee riparian habitats, with some that produce berries, in order to replace wildlife food lost by invasive removal. Collectively, we are rebuilding the natural biodiversity and resilience in the habitat.

How you can help

You can help by volunteering for one of our projects and being proactive by removing invasive plants from your yard. You can learn how to do this work at our volunteer events, taking the knowledge home with you to combat them in your yard. Invasive plants have also permeated our urban area. While volunteering, you’ll get a hands-on experience on how to recognize and eradicate these invasive plants. To solve the problem, we need everyone involved to overcome the invasion of these aggressive plants.

Volunteer with RCWA

To volunteer with RCWA, simply fill out the volunteer form on our website, and we’ll send you notices by email. You’ll be helping waterway habitats become healthier and more biodiverse for future generations to come.

A healthy riparian habitat supports clean water, wildlife and trees, and people. With citizens helping to remove them, we may very well overcome this challenging problem. Together we make a difference!



Hello!

Today is World Soil Day, and we’d like to take the opportunity to highlight just how important the soil is to us, and for our work to protect, connect, and renew the Richland Creek ecosystem. Soil is truly remarkable, and essential for the health and function of our ecosystems. Bottomlands are the low-lying lands along waterways, and the soil found in them is some of the most fertile and well draining that exist. The soils throughout a watershed are purposeful and important for ecosystems and the natural benefits they provide for food, plants, animals, and people. Protecting soil is vital! One inch of topsoil takes at least 100 years to form, according to USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service, and can take longer depending on vegetation and climate. They’ve also stated, “Improving the health of our Nation’s soil is one of the most important conservation endeavors of our time.”

Good, healthy soil performs many important functions. The most obvious benefit of soil is that it supports plant growth. One gram of healthy soil can contain up to one billion microorganisms! These microorganisms break down dead organic matter into nutrients that feed plants. Good soil produces healthy trees, vegetable gardens, and flowers. In short, the quality of your soil determines the quality of what you grow.

Another benefit soil provides is to soak up stormwater and direct it to groundwater sources, while filtering out pollutants along the way. The slow groundwater recharge gives our local waterways their base flow. In case you didn’t know, creeks flow daily because of this base flow, even on dry days. Having plenty of high-quality soil contributes to better water quality and higher capacity for storage in our watershed. Soil also acts as a carbon sink, just as trees do, absorbing carbon from the air.

  Healthy soil can be easily disrupted by the way we do or don’t take care of our land. Removing topsoil for use elsewhere can disrupt the fragile microbiome that is important to an ecosystem’s function. Monoculture lawns are frequently mowed and remove nutrients from the soil without replacing them, leading to soil depletion. Soil erosion creates problems both for the land and water environments. The excessive creation of hard surfaces in urban areas directs water mainly to concrete stormwater infrastructure. This increases the volume of stormwater and creates flashy behavior, as seen in the graph below. Instead of a gradual increase of water entering the creek over time, we get sharp peaks of stormwater entering the creek very quickly. The unnatural flashy behavior produced by this urban practice hastens the erosion of soil on the banks of our waterways, which contributes to the loss of many old trees, and increases the amount of sediment (dirt) in the water that impairs the aquatic habitat.

Here are some things you can do to help.

  • Advocate for more soil-water interaction during development.
  • Create more opportunities for your yard to capture water, such as just letting the downspout run to a tree, garden, or across your lawn.
  • Plant native trees and plants in your garden.
  • Start a compost pile, using your leaves, clippings, and plant debris for soil formation and to feed your garden.

Our Executive Director believes soil and water are the two most important resources for our planet and ecosystems. Understanding and appreciating the benefit of soil inspires us to inspire you to go out and work for its health. Our obligation to the future is to leave healthy soil and clean water. Our natural heritage needs us all to participate.

Will Southard

Outreach Coordinator



20180906_104849        Hi! I’m Will Southard, an AmeriCorps member serving with Richland Creek Watershed Alliance as the Outreach Coordinator. I will be assisting with the Riparian Renewal Program, restoring the Richland Creek’s habitats through eradication of invasive plants and re-planting of native species in riparian buffers. I’ll be doing social media and website content, helping with educational workshops, and planning community outreach activities. You may also meet me representing RCWA with the Nashville Waterways Consortium’s R!VIVE Nashville campaign.

        I graduated from the University of Virginia (UVA) this year, studying environmental science with a hydrology focus. I gained additional experience in community programming in college, and interned at the National Parks Services’ National Capital Region working on a study quantifying the hydrologic benefits of urban trees. Throughout my time at UVA, I was very involved in a student group, Sustainability Advocates, which was focused on boosting recycling and composting efforts at the university and educating the student body about sustainability-focused initiatives. My last semester at UVA, I worked with a small group of students creating a stormwater management proposal for a riverside community in Norfolk, VA. They are experiencing increased flooding issues similar to Nashville’s recent flooding. We focused on green solutions to stormwater issues like rain gardens, bioswales, and waterway buffers. I plan to attend graduate school for urban and environmental planning, with a focus on city planning with responsible environmental interaction in mind.

         I’m originally from the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, located in the western part of the state. Hiking, kayaking, and swimming were a huge part of my childhood, and continue to be important in my life. All of the water in the Shenandoah Valley flows east to the Chesapeake Bay, bringing with it runoff from agricultural fields and paved surfaces. The Chesapeake Bay has been severely impacted by harmful algal blooms (and oxygen dead zones that follow them HABs) as a result of this nutrient overloading. Once I started studying the Chesapeake Bay and its issues, I wanted to work educating people about their interactions with both local and regional waterways. Serving with RCWA is an opportunity to help educate people about the effects of their actions locally, while also continuing my own education about urban streams. I’m very excited to learn more about the unique ecology of Nashville’s local waterways, while simultaneously working to improve the community’s understanding of the issues facing urban waterways. RCWA works on everything from implementing riparian restoration to community outreach, and I’m excited to be serving with an organization that works in so many different spheres to protect and restore a local waterway. I’ll also be helping RCWA and partners with their campaign, R!VIVE! Nashville— a movement to revitalize Nashville’s streams and rivers.

        I’m here in Nashville after being selected for the AmeriCorps position through Hands on Nashville. The AmeriCorps program is a community service organization focused on supporting volunteers that work to build capacity for non-profits. I joined AmeriCorps because it was an opportunity to dive right into the environmental issues facing modern urban spaces. As I begin my term of service, I look forward to learning all about RCWA and the Richland Creek Watershed community. Hands on Nashville is still accepting applications for several AmericCorps positions to be filled by October. If you or someone you know is interested, follow this link: https://www.hon.org/americorps

        You can find more information about the Rivive! Nashville campaign at https://rivivenashville.org/

         I hope you are as excited as I am for the upcoming year, and I look forward to meeting and working with you to help restore Richland Creek!

 



NWC partnership. get started

We are proud to announce our partnership with the Nashville Waterways Consortium! Last year we came together with four other environmental conservation nonprofits to form the Consortium. Our mission is to inspire Nashvillians to take action for clean water and healthy streams for current and future generations.  The Nashville Waterways Consortium is a collaboration among The Cumberland River Compact, The Harpeth Conservancy, The Nature Consevancy, The Richland Creek Watershed Alliance and The Tennessee Environmental Council, generously funded by The Dan and Margaret Maddox Charitable Fund.

Five Organizations. One Mission

NWC

We’re excited to let you know the Consortium just kicked off R!VIVE! Nashville! Learn more about the initiative at its interactive website, Rivivenashville.org.

R!VIVE! NashvilleStay in touch with Rivive Nashville events, sign up for updates today!

The Constorium is launching the Rivive Initiative this fall with art projects and events to educate the public about the hundreds of waterway miles in Nashville, and inspire us all to get out and enjoy our streams and Cumberland River. Read the full press release…

Through a partnership with the Nashville Walls Project, we’re excited to let you know the Consortium has commissioned a mural to be painted downtown this October by international renowned artist Beau Stanton!  Watch Beau paint the Mural on 5th and Commerce Oct 17-25. Check out the Rivive Nashville Events for more fun ways to get involved!

________________________________________________

Thanks for your continued support of the Richland Creek Watershed Alliance.  

Together we make a difference!

 



Before after photoWe are pleased to announce that we have been able to successfully resolve our legal dispute with Metro and Saint Thomas regarding the redevelopment of the Imperial House property located next to Saint Thomas West Hospital.

In Richland Creek Watershed Alliance, Inc. v. The Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, Tennessee, et al, filed in Davidson County Chancery Court in May of 2015, RCWA challenged the validity of the Metro Council’s adoption of Ordinance No. BL2015-1094, which granted a rezoning request to Saint Thomas to change the zoning of the Imperial House property and the Knights of Columbus property on Bosley Springs Road to a Specific Plan (SP) zoning district pursuant to a Specific Plan that was approved as part of the adoption of the Ordinance.

RCWA spoke on behalf of the creek at the public hearings and met with the parties involved to try to make sure the protection of Richland Creek was a consideration in any plans for development. The creek runs between the two parcels at issue and the entire area was completely underwater during the 2010 flood. RCWA was forced to file suit when Metro granted the rezoning request without requiring any floodway buffer on the Imperial House site, interpreting the applicable ordinances to exempt the property from compliance with the current Metro Stormwater regulations because it had been “previously developed.”   Applying this interpretation to this development and other development in the city would have had a devastating effect on the quality of Nashville’s freshwater streams. It was the first time the ordinance had been applied in this way. We had no choice but to take action.

After nearly two years of litigation, and with an appeal pending in the Court of Appeals, we are very grateful to Saint Thomas and to our attorney, Sharon Jacobs of Bone McAllester, for working with RCWA to reach a mutually satisfactory resolution to this dispute.   Saint Thomas agreed to modify their Specific Plan (BL2017-655) to provide for and maintain a water quality buffer on the former Imperial House property and to add additional buffer protection to the Saint Thomas West property. In accordance with protections lobbied for by RCWA, the Knights of Columbus property will be placed under a conservation easement and not developed and impervious areas (old concrete pavement) located on that property will be removed and revegetated. Other remediation work may also be conducted as approved by Metro Stormwater, including bank restoration and tree plantings.

We appreciate the public support of our efforts in challenging this rezoning. We are especially excited to share that, as a result of bringing to light this potentially disastrous conflict between the Metro ordinances and the Metro Stormwater regulations, the Metro Council has passed Ordinance BL-2016-513, eliminating the conflicting ordinance language and making it clear that, when property is redeveloped, the floodway buffers will have to be preserved. We thank the Metro Council, Mayor Barry, and the Metro Stormwater staff for taking this important step toward providing that our streams and other waters are protected as Nashville grows.



Streamside Salamander (Ambystoma barbouri)

Stream Salamanders are on the move this time of year and we need help finding out if they still live here. Please use this summary the Tennessee Natural Heritage Program, Department of Environment and Conservation provided for guidance identifying Streamside Salamanders (adult) and its winter-breeding habitat:

Because of the sensitive nature of this species and its habitat, the Richland Creek Watershed Alliance asks only that citizens become aware of the Streamside Salamander and its habitat requirements, and report back potential observations of adults and winter survey sites. Photographs are welcomed! We do not encourage wanton examination of sites for eggs, for fear that rocks utilized for breeding may not be returned to their normal resting position. Ambystoma barbouri is protected as a “Deemed in Need of Management” species by the TWRA, and specific permissions are required to conduct research.

The distinctive gray and black speckled appearance of A. barbouri, coupled with its timely arrival at breeding sites, provides for reasonably straightforward confirmation of this species.

The Streamside Salamander (Ambystoma barbouri) is a winter-breeding species once considered abundant in the Green Hills area of Nashville. In 1965, a Belmont College researcher documented a “fair sized colony of Ambystoma [barbouri], including adults, eggs, and larvae” from “an intermittent stream in a bare vacant lot” in Green Hills, and observed five more “rather large colonies” from “similar habitats…spread geographically over many miles…” Although six populations were documented, the species was seemingly so plentiful that the author did not report exact locations. A 1967 Austin Peay State University collection from Hillsboro High School suggests that at least one population was present in an unnamed tributary to Sugartree Creek at that time.

No eggs, larvae, or adults have been documented in Green Hills since, despite repeated survey attempts by several researchers.

Streamside Salamanders are unique to Tennessee ambystomatids (the mole salamanders), and RCWAblogHabitatare considered genetically distinct from more northerly populations. Though all but hidden for most of the year, they come to winter ephemeral channels (in general) to breed between mid-December and mid-March. And although they will utilize streams that flow year-round, they especially prefer small, bedrock-bottomed streams with no large fish predators (such as sunfish). They lay very recognizable black eggs under slab rock resting on bedrock, and may remain with the eggs for a short period. Many of the best breeding sites are bone-dry in summer, but have gentle flows from late fall until early spring.

The former Green Hills populations may have been in the Richland Creek or Browns Creek watersheds, or both. Suitable habitats today should include headwater streams with minimal gradient and natural, unembedded rock cover. Rediscovery of this species in greater Green Hills would represent a noteworthy find, as at present only one marginally Davidson County occurrence is known.

David Ian Withers | Zoologist

Tennessee Natural Heritage Program, Division of Natural Areas, Department of Environment and Conservation, William R. Snodgrass TN Tower, 2nd Floor 312 Rosa L. Parks Avenue, Nashville, TN 37243 p. 615-532-0441 c. 615-289-3520

Email: david.withers@tn.gov



Richland Creek Watershed Alliance. All rights reserved. Richland Creek Watershed Alliance is a 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation.