Tennessee Ecological Services Field Office
Southeast Region
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Welcome to Tennessee Ecological Services Field Office




The Fish and Wildlife Service is closely monitoring the situation with COVID-19, and the health and safety of the public, our partners, and employees is our top priority.   The guidance below will be revised and updated as needed to respond to changing conditions.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife (USFWS) Tennessee Ecological Services Field Office remains open; however, all staff are teleworking until further notice in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 and to support social distancing efforts.  As a consequence, we have very limited office access, and may not receive hard copy mail or USPS, Fed Ex, or UPS deliveries in a timely manner.  To help ensure that your questions and project review requests are processed and reviewed as quickly as circumstances allow, please send all correspondence to:


We ask that when submitting your questions or projects via email that you be as specific as possible in the subject line.  This will help us assign your correspondence to the appropriate staff person(s) and will expedite our tracking of your correspondence. 

We appreciate your patience as we all are coping with the COVID-19 situation.  If you have any questions, please feel free to email us at the address provided, or leave a voicemail message on our main office number – (931) 528-6481.  Voicemails will be reviewed daily.


The Tennessee Field Office provides assistance to Federal and State agencies, local governments, businesses, and the general public relative to conserving, protecting, and restoring habitat for migratory birds and federally threatened and endangered species. Our assistance is typically provided through six programs: pre-development consultation, federal permits and projects, endangered species, environmental
contaminants, Partners for Fish and Wildlife, and education/outreach.


Service Proposes Listing the Alligator Snapping Turtle Under the Endangered Species Act

Photo credit: Bradley O’Hanlon, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to list the alligator snapping turtle as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The proposal follows a review of the best available science that indicates decades of overharvesting for domestic and international meat consumption, impacts from nest predation, recreational and illegal harvest and collection, and fishing activities are taking a severe toll on the turtle, which can grow up to 249 pounds.

Read more


Service Proposes Delisting 23 Species from Endangered Species Act Due to Extinction

Photo credit: Todd Amacker - Conservation Visuals

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to remove 23 species from the Endangered Species Act (ESA) due to extinction. Based on rigorous reviews of the best available science for each of these species, the Service has determined these species are extinct, and thus no longer require listing under the ESA.

The purpose of the ESA is to protect and recover imperiled species and the ecosystems upon which they depend. For the species proposed for delisting today, the protections of the ESA came too late, with most either extinct, functionally extinct, or in steep decline at the timing of listing.

“With climate change and natural area loss pushing more and more species to the brink, now is the time to lift up proactive, collaborative, and innovative efforts to save America's wildlife. The Endangered Species Act has been incredibly effective at preventing species from going extinct and has also inspired action to conserve at-risk species and their habitat before they need to be listed as endangered or threatened,” said Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland. “We will continue to ensure that states, Tribes, private landowners, and federal agencies have the tools they need to conserve America’s biodiversity and natural heritage.”

Read the News Release

Read the Delisting Rule


Service Proposes to Remove the Storied Snail Darter from Endangered Species Act Due to Recovery

Photo credit: Todd Amacker

There was a time when the snail darter was the biggest little fish in the United States. In the 1970s, the tiny, endangered Tennessee fish was in the news regularly, the subject of a Supreme Court ruling, an act of Congress, and a giant proposed dam that threatened it with extinction.

Inspired by its Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections, over the last 40 years conservation partners went to work protecting and restoring snail darters, conducting surveys that located additional populations, and reintroducing the fish to rivers it once called home. Due to these and other efforts and collaborations, our scientific status review has found the snail darter no longer faces the threat of extinction, and we are proposing it for delisting.

Read More

Read the delisting rule


Final Recovery Plan for Short's bladderpod

Photo credit: USFWS

The U.S. Fish and Service announces the availability of the final recovery plan for Short's bladderpod, which is available with an accompanying recovery implementation strategy on the species profile page.  We listed the species as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 2014.  The ESA requires the agency to prepare recovery plans for listed species.  This plan provides a road map for conserving Short's bladderpod and the habitat it needs to survive. 

Short's bladderpods are found in small, scattered populations in Indiana, Kentucky, and Tennessee, where the species typically grows on steep, rocky, wooded slopes and talus areas.  The species also utilizes habitats along the tops, bases, and ledges of bluffs and infrequently is found on sites with little topographic relief.   The most resilient populations occur in sites with relatively open overstory canopies.  

The greatest threats to this species are habitat loss and degradation, caused by construction and maintenance of transportation rights-of-way; prolonged inundation and soil erosion due to flooding and water level manipulation; overstory shading due to forest succession; and competition from invasive plant species.  The small sizes of most Short's bladderpod populations make them more vulnerable to extirpation due to effects of these threats, which often are cumulative.

The recovery strategy for Short’s bladderpod is to ensure the long-term viability of the species through habitat conservation, restoration, and management where extant occurrences are present; research to assess reproductive biology, life history, and ecological factors regulating population growth; surveys to identify new populations; ex situ conservation and population augmentation; and increased public awareness. This effort will require collaboration with key stakeholders.  The Service looks forward to working with others to recover Short's bladderpod and encourages interested parties to contact us about opportunities for implementing the species' recovery plan.



Service Finalizes Delisting of the Cumberland Sandwort

Photo credit: TN Department of Environment and Conservation

After more than three decades of conservation partnerships inspired by the Endangered Species Act and a thorough review of the best available science, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is delisting the Cumberland sandwort due to recovery.

“Partnerships are the key to the success of the Endangered Species Act,” said Leopoldo Miranda-Castro, Service Regional Director. “Playing critical roles in the recovery of this delicate flower were the National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, states of Tennessee and Kentucky, Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden and Missouri Botanical Garden. Thanks to these efforts, future generations will have the opportunity to enjoy the sandwort and the plants and animals that share its habitat.”

Read More

Read the delisting rule


Draft Recovery Plan for White Fringeless Orchid

Photo credit: Marty Silver, Tennessee State Parks


The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) is releasing a draft recovery plan for the white fringeless orchid, a perennial plant found in Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Tennessee. The orchid also occurred historically in North Carolina. It was listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 2016. 

Recovery plans provide important guidance to the Service, states, other partners, and the general public on methods for minimizing threats to listed species and objectives against which to measure the progress towards recovery. A recovery plan identifies, organizes, and prioritizes recovery actions and is an important guide that ensures sound scientific decision-making throughout the recovery plan. 

The goal of this draft recovery plan is to ensure the long-term viability of the white fringeless orchid in the wild to the point that it can be removed from the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Plants. 

The draft plan describes actions considered necessary for the recovery of this listed plant, establishes recovery criteria for delisting, and estimates the time and cost for implementing needed measures. 

The greatest threats to this orchid are loss or degradation of habitat and dynamics of small populations. The main causes of habitat degradation or loss include human development, which can result in conversion of habitat to non-native forest types or other land uses, altered hydrology, soil disturbance, and increased abundance of competing plants, both native and introduced.  

Additional threats include loss of individual plants from unauthorized collecting, consumption by herbivores, and pathogens. All these stressors are increased by the effects of climate change. This orchid’s small, isolated populations also increase its vulnerability to stochastic and catastrophic events.  

The Service is accepting public comments on this draft recovery plan. We must receive comments by August 16, 2021. 

Please find a link to the Draft Recovery Plan for White Fringeless Orchid below, along with links for the supporting Draft Recovery Implementation Strategy and Species Status Assessment. 

Submitting comments: If you wish to comment, you may submit your comments by one of the following methods: 

•Email: geoff_call@fws.gov. Please include “White Fringeless Orchid Draft Recovery Plan Comments” in the subject line. 

•U.S. mail: Tennessee Field Office, 446 Neal Street, Cookeville, TN  38506. 

Federal Register Notice

Draft Recovery Plan

Draft Recovery Implementation Strategy

Species Status Assessment


Skinner Mountain Forest – Northern Cumberland Plateau Conservation Opportunity Area

 The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service collaborated with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, The Conservation Fund, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and The Nature Conservancy to protect 14,888 acres of forest land in Fentress County.  Loss of habitat is the primary threat to most endangered and threated species.  Land acquisition can be highly effective and efficient in protecting habitats needed for the recovery of federally listed species.

Read More


Service reopens public comment period for proposed delisting of Nashville crayfish

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is reopening the public comment period on the proposed delisting of the Nashville crayfish from the Endangered Species Act (ESA) due to recovery. The comment period reopening will provide an additional 30 days for all interested parties to comment on the proposed rule and participate in an information meeting and a separate public hearing. Comments previously submitted need not be resubmitted and will be fully considered in preparation of the final rule.

The Nashville crayfish inhabits only the Mill Creek Watershed of the greater Nashville, Tennessee area. Following a review of the best available science, the Service proposed delisting the Nashville crayfish due to recovery in November 2019. The review found that populations of the crayfish are healthy, stable and robust and that the species no longer meets the definition of endangered or threatened under the ESA. Read the complete News Release

All of the documents relating to these actions can be found at regulations.gov under Docket No. FWS-R4-ES-2018-0062.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Learn more about the Nashville crayfish on our Environmental Conservation Online System (ECOS)


Documents from the public informational meeting and public hearing

Video recording of the Nashville crayfish public meeting


Closed captions of the Nashville crayfish public meeting

Final transcript of the Nashville crayfish public meeting

Questions from the Nashville crayfish Public meeting



Barrier Removal Improves Habitat for Nashville Crayfish

Photo credit: USFWS

The Mill Creek Watershed is located in the southern portion of Davidson County and Williamson County in Metro Nashville, Tennessee. Urbanization of this watershed has resulted in increased sedimentation and impaired water quality due to sedimentation and contaminated stormwater runoff. The stream is increasingly flashy, experiencing increased flows caused by removal of trees and development of impervious surfaces. Many stream segments within the watershed are listed as impaired on the State of Tennessee’s 303( d) list and do not meet their designated uses of fish and aquatic life, irrigation, livestock, and recreation.

Read the story


Service proposes to list two eastern freshwater mussels as threatened under the Endangered Species Act

Following rigorous scientific reviews of the best available science, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to list the longsolid and round hickorynut freshwater mussels, found in streams and rivers in the Eastern U.S., as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

With today’s action, the Service is also proposing critical habitat and special rules under section 4(d) of the ESA that tailor protections for each species, along with economic analyses on the costs associated with critical habitat designation. The Service found a third eastern freshwater mussel, the purple lilliput, does not warrant ESA protection. Read the News Release


Nashville crayfish proposed delisting is a hometown success story

The Nashville crayfish lives in only one place in the world: the Mill Creek watershed in metropolitan Nashville. Despite the urban setting, the crayfish is doing just fine. So much so that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to delist it under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), following a science-based status review. The review found that populations are healthy, stable and robust and that it no longer meets the definition of an endangered or a threatened species under the ESA.



U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Finalizes Rule to Protect Fish Unique to Tennessee Under the Endangered Species Act

The Barrens topminnow, a beautiful, iridescent fish found only in four Tennessee counties, was listed as endangered under the 
Endangered Species Act today. The final listing follows a rigorous review of the best available science and information that determined
it is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range.



U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service conducts five-year status reviews of 53 Southeastern species

As part of the process mandated by the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will conduct five-year status reviews of 53 endangered or threatened fish, wildlife, and plants. These species are found in the Southeastern United States and Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.


Thanks to conservation partnerships, two southeastern fish and a snail do not warrant Endangered Species Act protection

Following extensive scientific reviews, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has determined that three southeastern animals do not face the threat of extinction now or in the foreseeable future. Accordingly, the ashy darter, Barrens darter and Arkansas mudalia snail do not warrant Endangered Species Act (ESA) protection. Read more

A boost in the Barrens

Barrens topminnows are small, colorful fish that live only in a few springs and creeks in central Tennessee. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed listing the fish as endangered. Photo by Emily Granstaff, USFWS.

Partners for Fish and Wildlife works with cattle company to improve habitat for topminnows, darters and mussels - read the story


Service proposes to list the eastern black rail as threatened under the Endangered Species Act

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and its partners are working to protect a small, secretive marsh bird that is in steep decline. Some populations of the eastern black rail along the Atlantic coast have dropped by as much as 90 percent, and with a relatively small total population remaining across the eastern United States, the Service is proposing to list the subspecies as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). More information


Recovery plan for endangered Chucky madtom available

The final recovery plan for the Chucky madtom, a federally listed endangered small catfish, is now available.

The Chucky madtom lives in a single tributary of the Nolichucky River in East Tennessee. Threats to the species
include loss of habitat, small population size, inability to offset mortality with natural reproduction, and their resulting
vulnerability to natural or human-induced catastrophic events, such as droughts and pollution.

Full News Release

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service conducts five-year status reviews of 35 Southeastern species

Pyne's ground plum

As part of the process mandated by the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will conduct five-year status reviews of 35 endangered or threatened fish, wildlife, and plants. These species are found in the Southeastern United States and Puerto Rico.

The public is invited to provide information and comments concerning these species on or before July 6, 2018.

These five-year reviews will ensure listing classifications under the ESA are accurate and recommend changes in status where appropriate based on the latest science and analysis. In addition to reviewing the classification of these species, a five-year review presents an opportunity to track the species’ recovery progress. It may benefit species by providing valuable information to guide future conservation efforts.

Information gathered during a review can assist in making funding decisions, consideration related to reclassifying species status, conducting interagency consultations, making permitting decisions, and determining whether to update recovery plans, and other actions under the ESA.

See the full story


Cumberland darter draft recovery plan available

Photo Credit: Conservation Fisheries Inc.

The Cumberland darter is a pencil-sized fish that lives in the Upper Cumberland River Basin in Kentucky and Tennessee.  It is endangered and protected under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) is releasing a draft recovery plan for the fish.  The public is invited to submit comments concerning the draft recovery plan through June 4, 2018.   The Cumberland darter lives in pools and shallow runs of streams with sand-covered river bottoms in that basin.  Threats include a variety of impacts such as sedimentation, disturbance of riparian corridors, and changes in channel structure.  More

Draft Recovery Plan


U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposes endangered status for Barrens topminnow

The Barrens Plateau is home to a beautiful, iridescent fish that rarely grows longer than four inches and is found in only a few creeks and springs in four Tennessee counties. That little fish is now in trouble, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to help protect it as an endangered speciesunder the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

The Barrens topminnow has suffered from introduction of the non-native western mosquitofish, which has invaded the minnow’s habitat, outcompeting it for food and directly preying on young topminnows. That and the impact of drought mean the minnow is struggling to survive. More...


Endangered and Threatened Species: 90 Day Findings for Five Species

tri colored bat photo

More research is needed on three species before U.S. Fish and Wildlife officials can determine whether to add them to the threatened and endangered species list.

More scientific and commercial information will be compiled for the Venus flytrap, located in the Carolinas; oblong rocksnail, located in Alabama; and tricolored bat, located in 38 states, including Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.

News Release


In the Race Against Extinction, Rusty Patched Bumble Bee is Listed as Endangered

rusty patch bumble bee

Just 20 years ago, the rusty patched bumble bee was a common sight, so ordinary that it went almost unnoticed as it moved from flower to flower, collecting nectar and pollen. But the species, now balancing precariously on the brink of extinction, has become the first-ever bumble bee in the United States -- and the first bee of any kind in the contiguous 48 states -- to be declared endangered.

News Release (.pdf)

Final Listing Rule (.pdf)


Sherwood Forest Conservation Effort Protects Endangered Wildlife Habitat and Local Jobs

Sherwood Forest
Photo Credit: Tennessee Department of Environment & Conservation

On November 10, 2016 The Conservation Fund and The Land Trust for Tennessee, in partnership with the State of Tennessee, announced the protection of 4,061 acres of forestland in the South Cumberland region. With funding from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF)—through both the U.S. Forest Service’s Forest Legacy Program and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund—more than eight miles of streams in the Crow Creek Valley and vital habitat for more than one-third of all the federally threatened painted snake coiled forest snails known to exist have been conserved.

News Release (.pdf)

View the map (.pdf)






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Threatened and Endangered Species in Tennessee

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Last updated: November 10, 2021
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