The French Broad River Corridor

“For it is a rare region, this country of the French Broad

that boasts so much variety of beauty and species and experience.”  

~ from “The French Broad” by Wilma Dykeman

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     One of only two rivers that flows north, the French Broad River is also the world’s third-oldest river. The river downstream of Douglas Dam- where the Seven Islands State Birding Park is located- is one of the few warmwater tailwaters in east Tennessee. It is this biologically rich area that is the primary focus of the Seven Islands Foundation.

       The French Broad River, its tributary creeks and the lands in the corridor, are known as home to nine rare species which are listed by the State, and twelve threatened or endangered species listed by the federal government. (Of those species, 14 live in aquatic habitats and 7 are terrestrial.) The survival of these 21 species and other fauna and flora is largely dependent on the conservation of the landscape of the corridor.

      The French Broad River and its streamside environment fosters a rich biodiversity. Vegetation along the shoreline moderates water temperature, filters out pollutants and controls erosion. Throughout the corridor, edge or transitional habitats can be found in overgrown field borders, fence rows, woody thickets and woodland edges. These habitats provide escape cover, foraging and nesting sites, and travel corridors for terrestrial wildlife and migrating birds.

         A successful comeback for the lake sturgeon and sauger- important commercial and sport fish- has taken place over the past several years in the lower French Broad. The efforts of Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency (TWRA) and other collaborators have brought back such dynamic wildlife as river otters, ospreys, great blue herons and bald eagles. Along this stretch numerous mussel beds can be found as well. It is important to preserve the integrity, stability and beauty of this biotic community.

      In addition to its ecological value, the lower French Broad Corridor also has a valuable rural heritage. Many homes and farms that are significant in the history of the region’s earliest settlements still exist in this corridor. Other historic sites associated with commerce, river transportation, religion, and education are located along the early roads and river.

     The lower French Broad River— rich in biological life— is also a place of great beauty. The river is a valuable blueway for recreation such as boating, fishing, swimming, and quiet reflection. It is a gemstone in the Knoxville Community.