Bald cypress trees reflected in water.
Bald Cypress trees. These sturdy, water-loving trees are reflected in Oneal Lake after sunset, Hatchie National Wildlife Refuge. © Byron Jorjorian

Stories in Tennessee

West Tennessee River Basin Authority

The WTRBA is a key partner for us in West Tennessee.


Since 2010, the West Tennessee River Basin Authority (WTRBA) and The Nature Conservancy have collaborated on stream and floodplain conservation projects in West Tennessee. Our West Tennessee Program Director, Jeff Fore, collaborates with the WTRBA on multiple science projects that assess the effectiveness of our joint West Tennessee conservation projects. Working together, we also create new tools that improve conservation, and we deliver conservation work that reduces flooding, improves stream and floodplain habitats, and improves water quality.

The WTRBA is located in Humboldt, Tennessee, and serves a 20-county area in West Tennessee—essentially the area between the Mississippi and Tennessee Rivers, excluding the Wolf River watershed and Shelby County. The WTRBA is a branch of the Tennessee Department of Environment & Conservation (TDEC) and is governed by a board of directors composed primarily of the county mayors and other agency representatives within their service area.


The mission of the West Tennessee River Basin Authority is to preserve the natural flow and function of West Tennessee’s streams and rivers through environmentally sensitive stream maintenance. Through their efforts they:

  • Restore natural stream and floodplain dynamics.
  • Maintain or stabilize the function of altered streams and rivers.
  • Provide regional and local leadership for the conservation and sustainable utilization of these river basins.

The roots of the WTRBA are in Obion-Forked Deer Basin Authority, which was established in 1972. At that time, it was charged with working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on a channel enlargement project for the Obion and Forked Deer river systems.

In 1996, the Tennessee legislature reorganized and redirected the Basin Authority to focus on preserving the flow and function of streams and rivers in an environmentally sensitive manner. Initially the WTRBA remained focused on the Obion and Forked Deer Rivers, but in the early 2000s additional river drainages were added to the WTRBA’s responsibilities until it reached its current complement of 20 West Tennessee counties.

Working together, the West Tennessee River Basin Authority and The Nature Conservancy are addressing the most pressing issues of river and stream health in the West Tennessee region for people and nature.