Why the Conservancy Selected This Site
The Clinch and Powell Rivers are formed in the Appalachian Mountains of southwestern Virginia, and are considered the only ecologically intact (undammed) headwaters of the Tennessee River system.
Rare and endangered species abound here. The Clinch River sustains 48 imperiled and vulnerable animal species, including 29 varieties of rare freshwater mussels and 19 species of fish. Rare plants, mammals and birds also thrive along the river's edge.
Because of this concentration of rare animals, the Clinch River basin has been identified as the number-one hotspot in the U.S. for imperiled aquatic species.
Significantly, the Clinch Valley's land, water and natural resources also sustain human communities and their economies. The socioeconomic conditions of the area are defined by high unemployment and economic disparity. Our challenge is therefore to develop and promote economically compatible approaches to conservation that not only protect the Clinch River as a natural resource but also allow for its sustainable economic use. Declining water quality, a legacy of coal mining and unsustainable agricultural practices are the primary threats to the Powell and the Clinch Rivers today.