- Construct Headquarters and Visitor Center (FFS #R4AF)
- Rehabilitate Levee Overgrown with Woody Vegetation (FFS #R4KF)
- Replace DRU Pole Shed Barn (FFS #R4KE)
- Restore the 11-mile TVA Levee on the Duck River Unit (FFS #R4KD)
- Replace Leaking 60 inch Water Control Structure (FFS #R4KC)
Project Description: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS, the Service) used American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act) funds to rehabilitate a key refugee levee overgrown with woody vegetation. The Service is also using Recovery Act funds to construct a headquarters and visitor center, replace the pole shed barn, restore the 11-mile Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) levee on the Duck River Unit, and replace the leaking 60-inch water control structure at the Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) in New Johnsonville, Tennessee.
Construct Headquarters and Visitor Center
The Service awarded a $4.7 million contract to Shaw Environmental & Infrastructure to design and build a new visitor center and headquarters at the refuge. The new center will include an exhibit hall, auditorium, observation deck, and a classroom for environmental education programs.
“I think the entire community benefits from this great addition to a truly remarkable refuge,” said John Taylor, Refuge Manager. “Our present rental office is 10 miles from the nearest refuge unit, has no interpretive exhibits or facilities for environmental education and does not allow our refuge staff to adequately direct visitors to refuge facilities or attractions.”
“This exciting new center will enable John and his team to tell the refuge wildlife story in a more effective and compelling way,” said Cindy Dohner, Acting Regional Director for the FWS Southeast Region. “Once it’s completed, the center will become an important part of the region’s economy and our effort to connect people with nature.”
The proposed site is central to the refuge’s four widely separated units, which encompass 59,700 acres in five counties. It will provide more efficient deployment for law enforcement, biological, and maintenance personnel to better accomplish the refuge’s mission and safeguard the public and refuge resources. Approximately 400,000 people come to Tennessee NWR each year for hunting, fishing, bird watching, and other recreational activities. The new visitor center is expected to boost the local economy by increasing tourism and related economic activity.
Rehabilitate Levee Overgrown with Woody Vegetation
The Service awarded a $154,000 contract to Ducks Unlimited to repair a key levee at the refuge, overgrown with woody vegetation. Ducks Unlimited completed the project in September 2010.
The refuge constructed the levee in the 1980s to make an impoundment area of approximately 160 acres. Service Biologist, Robert Wheat, noted that numerous floods through the years eroded the levee. In addition, a portion of the levee experienced seepage problems, and woody vegetation grew upwards along the steep banks. According to Wheat, “We’ve patched it, but we [did not have] the funds to fix it.”
The impoundment area is a sanctuary for tens of thousands of ducks. It is not open to hunters; the improvements allow the refuge to carry out its mission of providing a wintering area for migrating waterfowl.
According to Project Leader, Barron Crawford, “[The] project improved water management capability, which will allow refuge staff to provide better habitat for wintering waterfowl and migratory shorebirds.”
Replace Old DRU Pole Shed Barn at the “Bull Pen”
FWS awarded a $340,000 contract to REI Solutions of El Paso, Texas, to construct a new building for equipment storage and maintenance at the refuge.
According to Deputy Refuge Manager, Troy Littrell, “The current building, which is a simple pole barn, has aged significantly and deteriorated to the point where we can no longer use it. The new building will allow us to safely shelter and maintain our fleet of heavy equipment, such as bulldozers, excavators and backhoes.”
According to Crawford, “This pole barn is replacing a 40-year old structure that is no longer functional. The new pole barn has an enclosed bay that is heated and cooled and will allow refuge staff to service heavy equipment in a climate-controlled environment.”
REI Solutions sub-contracted some of the building work to Casey Civil, LLC. The project is 99.5% complete as of August 2011, with only punch list items remaining.
Restore the 11-mile TVA Levee on the Duck River Unit
The Service awarded TVA a $3,744,890 contract to restore the 11-mile levee on the Duck River Unit to its original elevation.
According to Crawford, “The levee had been impacted by years of flood damage. There were several places where the levee was three feet below the original elevation with numerous cuts that threatened to breach the levee. This levee protects 1,200 acres of agriculture fields and 1,280 acres of moist soil units, plus other upland habitats, from minor floods from Kentucky Lake. The repaired levee will protect habitat and infrastructure from regularly occurring minor flooding within the Duck River Bottoms. The repaired levee should better withstands major flood events with less damage due to [the] size of the spillways and armoring of the side slopes, thus saving money for future repairs.”
The levee was assessed and broken down into priority areas. TVA and its contractors will work through the repairs by priority until all funds are expended. The project is ongoing as of August 2011.
Replace Leaking 60-inch Water Control Structure
The Service awarded TVA a $27,000 contract to replace the leaking 48-inch water control structure with a 60-inch water control structure and screw gate.
According to Crawford, “[The] structure drains a large impoundment into the Duck River. The structure is leaking and does not close properly, which does not allow for achieving water management objectives. During flood events, a proper[ly] functioning structure would [allow] refuge staff to divert water from the upper pools into the Duck River and reduce flood impacts to infrastructure in the lower portion of the unit.”
The project will also provide habitat for wintering waterfowl and recreational fishing opportunities.
President Harry S. Truman established Tennessee NWR in 1945. Today, approximately 40,000 people come to the refuge each year for the hunting, fishing, bird watching, and other wildlife recreation opportunities at the refuge.
The 50,000-acre refuge provides significant wintering habitat for migrating waterfowl. The refuge provides habitat for resident wildlife species, including 301 bird, 51 mammal, 89 reptile and amphibian, and 144 fish species. White-tailed deer can be found throughout the area, along with smaller animals such as raccoons, foxes, squirrels, beaver, rabbits, and wild turkey.
The refuge is located on and around Kentucky Lake in northwest Tennessee. The refuge’s three units, Big Sandy, Duck River, and Busseltown, stretch for 65 miles along the Tennessee River.
Visit the Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge website for more information.
Video: Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge Visitor’s Center Site Dedication
Watch the following video from the Tennessee NWR Visitor’s Center dedication ceremony with excerpts from Director Sam Hamilton’s speech.
Press Release: Secretary Salazar Announces $2 million in Stimulus Funding
Originally posted 11/02/2009