News | May 22, 2023

SELC wins conservation award from Tennessee Wildlife Federation

Conservationists, anglers, paddlers, and nearby communities enjoy and rely on the Duck River, one of the country’s most unique waterways. (©Dusty Dodridge)

The Tennessee Wildlife Federation honored the Southern Environmental Law Center with its Conservation Organization of the Year award at the organization’s 58th annual Conservation Achievement Awards. The awards recognize those making outstanding contributions to Tennessee’s wildlife and natural resources. 

Senior Attorney George Nolan accepts the award. (©George Nolan)

“We are honored and grateful to receive this award from our steadfast partners at the Tennessee Wildlife Federation,” SELC Senior Attorney George Nolan said. “We look forward to continue working with the Federation to protect Tennessee’s natural treasures.”  

Tennessee Wildlife Federation promotes conservation, sound management and wise use of Tennessee’s great outdoors. The Federation has also been a longtime partner with SELC, dating back to the 1990s when the two groups stopped the Tennessee Valley Authority from selling off public lands. Last year, SELC and the Federation joined with the Tennessee Chapter of The Nature Conservancy to better protect one of the state’s most popular waterways: the Duck River.  

Defending the Duck River 

The Duck River flows through Middle Tennessee and is one of the most biodiverse waterways in North America. Its watershed is also the backbone of the region’s outdoor recreation economy, supporting an estimated 150,000 anglers, kayakers, canoers, and boaters annually. 

But the remarkable river is threatened by Tennessee’s booming growth. Last year, a local water utility appealed the permit for its new water intake facility on the Duck River. The utility challenged the permit’s withdrawal limits, which protect the river’s health and incredible wildlife by limiting the amount of water pumped from the river during times of low flow or drought. 

We look forward to continue working together to protect Tennessee’s natural treasures.

George Nolan, Senior Attorney

Tennessee Wildlife Federation and The Nature Conservancy, represented by SELC, intervened in the case and successfully defended the use of water withdrawal limits, leading to a significant settlement that protects the Duck River while providing for the needs of a rapidly growing region. 

Along with keeping the limits in place, state officials agreed to participate in or perform additional research to better understand the impact stream flows have on the Duck River and its incredible wildlife.