Hands holding freshwater mussels
Clinch River Mussels: A variety of different species of rare mussels are pulled from the Clinch River. The Cumberland Forest Project conserves important forestlands in the river's watershed. © Jon Golden/The Nature Conservancy

Places We Protect

Kyles Ford Preserve

Virginia

This 850-acre property is considered the most ecologically significant site in the Upper Tennessee River Basin.

Overview

Kyles Ford Preserve is valued for its position on the Clinch River and its assortment of aquatic life, including numerous rare and threatened species. The centerpiece of the preserve is the Kyles Ford mussel shoal, a shallow section of the Clinch River that contains at least 35 mussel species, more than any other place on Earth.

The Clinch River sustains 48 imperiled and vulnerable species, including 29 varieties of rare mussels and 19 species of fish. Rare plants, mammals and birds also thrive along the river's edge. All told, the river and surrounding valley are home to 27 species that are federally listed as threatened or endangered; Kyles Ford Preserve contains 10 of these species.

At Kyles Ford, TNC works to protect the health of the Clinch River by restoring native trees and shrubs to the river banks, keeping cattle out of the river itself, and monitoring water quality.