A Snail Darter Timeline - Articles

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Posted by: on Apr 1, 2009

Journal Issue Date: Apr 2009

Journal Name: April 2008 - Vol. 44, No. 4

1936: TVA lists Tellico site on Little Tennessee River (at confluence with Watts Bar and Ft. Loudoun reservoirs on Big Tennessee), as one of 69 potential dam sites.

1940-67: TVA builds more than 5 dozen dams

1959: TVA Chair Red Wagner posits a Tellico Dam to be primarily justified by land development and recreation benefit claims.

1968: TVA begins Tellico Dam, based on land development for "Timberlake New Town" to be built by Boeing Corp.; concrete dam built, $4 million.

1972: Farmers and environmentalists get NEPA injunction, based on TVA's lack of EIS.

1973: New EIS deemed sufficient"NEPA injunction lifted.

Aug. 12: Dr. David Etnier discovers snail darter at Coytee Springs shoal on Little T.
Dec. 28: Richard Nixon signs Endangered Species Act [ESA]


1975: Boeing abandons Timberlake project, citing economic impracticality.
Citizens' petition to federal Department of Interior granted for listing of snail darter as endangered, critical habitat, under ESA  §7.

1976: District Judge Robert Taylor finds facts of ESA  §7 violation, declines injunction.

1977: Sixth Circuit grants injunction.

1978:        April 18: Oral argument in Supreme Court.

June 15: Supreme Court upholds injunction.


1979:        Jan. 29: Cabinet-level God Committee, created by Baker-Culver ESA Amendments, unanimously upholds snail darter injunction on economic grounds.

July-Sept.: Sen. Baker and Rep. John Duncan push appropriations rider over-ruling ESA and other laws. Pres. Jimmy Carter fails to veto override. Cherokees file religious freedom lawsuit; Judge Taylor dismisses lawsuit; 6th Cir. affirms; S.Ct. denies cert.
Nov. 29: Reservoir completed and river impounded.


1982: No economic activity; TVA proposes use of valley as regional toxic waste facility; citizens' public outcry sinks proposal.

1984: TVA begins cooperation with Walmart-linked developers to create high-income resort home development.

1984ff: Some light industrial development locates near Highway 411; extensive flatwater recreation around lake; several communities of high-income resort homes; darter transplants allow downlisting of the darter to "threatened" status.