Trutta Environmental Solutions

High-Definition Stream Survey of the Caney Fork River, TN

Cold water releases from the Center Hill Dam support a high-quality trout fishery in the lower portion of the Caney Fork River, TN. The trout fishery and recreational paddling opportunities (kayaks and canoes) draw people from all over the region and greatly benefit the local economy. The US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) manages the flow releases from Center Hill Dam to support power production, flood control, and the trout fishery. The USACE plans to upgrade its generation capacity at Center Hill Dam, and as a result, will change the current amount and duration of the generation flows coming out of the dam. The Cumberland Chapter of TU, Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency (TWRA), and Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) are concerned about the potential negative effects of the flow changes and are interested in ways to improve water quality, trout habitat and fishing success for anglers. We used the HDSS approach to gather continuous, geo-referenced data on 27 miles of the Caney Fork River corridor from the Center Hill Dam downstream to the confluence with the Cumberland River. We captured data on both river banks and depth, water quality, habitat type and bottom characteristics of the river channel. Concurrent to our HDSS data collection, TWRA conducted their electrofishing trout sampling and we outfitted their sampling boat with GPS and video to document the exact locations of fish captures during the survey. The HDSS data documented habitat availability while the TWRA data documented trout habitat use. The information was then used to determine the location and extent of trout habitat, areas susceptible to streambank erosion, areas suitable for instream habitat enhancement, and areas most suitable for wade or boat fishing. The results provided TU, TWRA and TDEC with complete documentation of river corridor conditions, information on the trout population, prioritized locations for trout enhancement projects, and fishing maps to improve angler success. This project highlights the strength of the HDSS approach to efficiently gather a wide range of river corridor information to support both management applications and recreational angler needs. Along with the report, the field data and results from the Caney Fork River HDSS project were provided in digital format.

An example of the video coding software used to classify the HDSS video output. In this example, Habitat type is being classified. On the left is the full classification list and on the right is the current classification showing run type habitat.