Annual Coal Creek Health Day …
Fifteen and Counting!!

30 October 2015


If you want to graduate from Briceville Elementary School, you first have to hold a fish collected during the annual Coal Creek Health Day sampling event.   

The creek that gives the area its name, Coal Creek, runs beside Briceville School.  It's a living laboratory!!  For the 15th 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 18 different species of fish collected today, along with an assortment of aquatic insects displayed in a separate tray.  Inside the gymnasium, students participated in fly tying and casting instructions. 

Do you know which elementary school in Tennessee has participated in a fish restoration project?  We do, it’s called Briceville.

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.

Yay! UT and TVA volunteers!!

In 2007, Briceville students participated in an effort by aquatic biologists from UT, TVA,
and TDEC to introduce rainbow darters, which should be present based on current water
quality conditions as described at
Right on cue, young rainbow darters were again collected this year, indicating that
natural reproduction is occurring.

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

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.


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 elementary school, 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.

Here is the list of
species found
this year:

Largescale stoneroller
Bluntnose minnow
Rainbow darter
Northern hogsucker
Redline darter
Creek chub
Striped shiner
Smallmouth bass
Blueside darter
Black redhorse
Snubnose darter
Greenside darter
Rock bass
Bigeye chub
Northern studfish\
Scarlet shiner
Redbreast sunfish
Blacknose dace

J. Brian Alford, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Fishery
Conservation & Management
The University of Tennessee
Dept. of Forestry, Wildlife,
and Fisheries


Highly skilled volunteers from the
Clinch River Chapter Trout Unlimited!

The very BEST Volunteers!!

Brian Alford, UT
Steve Brown, TU
Buzz Buffington, TU
Joyce Coombs, UT
Terry Douglas, TU
Dick Geiger, TU
Hayley Gotwald, UT
Melissa Harrell, TU
Denny McMahan, TU
Jon Michael Mollish, TVA
Carol Moore, CCWF
Charles Saylor, TVA
Barry Thacker, CCWF
Justin Wolbert, UT


The Clinton Courier's Ken Leinart and new reporter Heather Miller joined us a published a great story with lots of pictures as shown on three page PDF at: HEALTH DAY NEWS

The Knoxville News Sentinel's writer Bob Fowler and Photographer Paul Efird were there amongst the fun and printed an story and short video as shown online and in a PDF as shown at the following links:  Knox News Health Day 2015


Link to News Sentinel article

Paul Efird’s photo gallery

After the event, we met with science academic coaches from
Anderson County Schools at Briceville Public Library
to discuss incorporating projects such as Health Day at
other schools in Anderson County.

Carol Moore (L) with Anderson County Schools
Science Academic Coaches


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