Fourteenth Annual
Coal Creek Health Day

HAPPY!!
31 October 2014

Today was Halloween, Camo Day, Health Day, Cold Weather Day, Orange Bandana Day, and
the DAY OF THE CHICKEN-MAN IN THE CREEK!

Most used words of the day -- "I want to hold one!  I want to hold one? (Referring to a fish or crawdad!)



WATCH The video of the kids making their Chicken noise as he samples here:
 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2sJHrFQkHVg&feature=youtu.be

 
VIEW TONS MORE PHOTOS OF THE DAY AT:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/95516223@N08/sets/72157649071048071/
 

At Briceville School’s morning assembly today, Principal Sandra Patton asked students, “Raise your hand if know what is special about today,” which every student did.  She then asked, “So, what is today?”  Students replied in unison, “Coal Creek Health Day!”

The creek that gives the area its name, Coal Creek, runs beside Briceville School.  It's a living laboratory!!  For the 14th year, each class took a turn participating in a bioassay of Coal Creek to assess its health by determining what lives in it.  An aquarium was filled with 16 different species of fish collected today, along with an assortment of aquatic insects.  Inside the gymnasium, students participated in fly tying and casting instructions. 


Got fish!?
 

With so many activities taking place at once, we worried about having enough volunteers.  As always, the Clinch River Chapter of Trout Unlimited stepped up to the plate, along with our friends from TVA, UT, and Project Healing Waters.

Thanks so much to Briceville School Principal Sandra Patton and all the teachers for allowing us the pleasure of spending the day with their well-mannered students.  And, don't forget the cafeteria ladies who fed us lunch and Bobby McCoy whose famous shiny floors we got wet and muddy.

During past events, we have found a hefty smallmouth bass beneath a rock ledge beside the school.  We don’t know if it’s the same fish or if the biggest smallmouth in the pool claims the perch beneath the ledge.  Regardless, we call him "Rocky."  Right on cue, he appeared again today during the electroshocking experiment.  Jon Michael Mollish from TVA added a new twist this year by catching Rocky while wearing his Halloween chicken suit.

Bioassays conducted in the past show that Coal Creek rates as good in its diversity of aquatic insects, but only fair in its diversity of native fish species.  Insects can fly to repopulate Coal Creek as water quality has improved, but not fish.  The cold water of the Clinch River tailwater below Norris Dam appears to impede the natural recruitment of some missing warm-water species.

In 2007, UT, TVA, and TDEC introduced rainbow darters, which should be present based on current water quality conditions as described at www.coalcreekaml.com/CoalCreekRestoration.htm.  Right on cue, young rainbow darters were collected this year, indicating that natural reproduction is occurring.

Coal Creek Scholars at Anderson County High School tell us that collecting fish and insects from the creek on Coal Creek Health Day remains their fondest memory of Briceville Elementary School.  Our fondest memory is seeing Briceville students excel in middle school and high school, so they can go to college and become productive members of society. 

We call it Briceville School’s unbroken circle of success.

Fish species found today include:

Striped Shiner
Bluntnose Minnow
Rock Bass
Large Scale Stoneroller
Northern Hog Sucker
Northern Studfish
Scarlet Shiner
Bigeye Chub
Golden Redhorse
Smallmouth Bass
Bluegill
Black Redhorse
Redline Darter
Redbreast Sunfish
Rainbow Darter
Tennessee Darter

Species found during previous Health Days, but not found today:

Sand Shiner
Snubnose Darter
Greenside Darter
Spotfin Shiner
Blueside Darter
Longear Sunfish

Volunteers:

Robert Bogus, Project Healing Waters
Dan Moneymaker, Project Healing Waters
Steve Brown, TU
Dick Geiger, TU
Buzz Buffington, TU
Denny McMahan, TU
Brian Alford, UT
Hayley Gotwald, UT
Jon Michael Mollish, TVA
John Thurman, TVA, TU, CCWF
Joyce Coombs, UT
Charles Saylor, TVA
Carol Moore, CCWF
Barry Thacker, CCWF

PROJECT HEALING WATERS: http://www.projecthealingwaters.org/

CLINCH RIVER TROUT UNLIMITED: http://crctu.org/

TENNESSEE VALLEY AUTHORITY: http://www.tva.gov/

UNIVERSITY OF TENNESSEE: http://www.utk.edu/

TONS more photos can be viewed in album at:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/95516223@N08/sets/72157649071048071/

 

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CELEBRATING OUR 17th YEAR!!