Aquatic experts: Fish coming back to Ocoee River

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) -- Aquatic experts are crediting land and water reclamation efforts for the resurgence of fish in the Ocoee River after more than 150 years.

Copper mining and acid production that started in the 1840s in Polk County killed the life in the Ocoee and its tributaries.

Amy Wales is a Tennessee Valley Authority aquatic monitor. She says surveyors have found 18 species of fish below the No. 2 powerhouse, including 16 species of native fish.

She says that contrasts with a 2001 survey when the aquatic monitors counted only five species, most nonnative. A 2006 count showed more than 20 species with many native varieties including spotted bass and sunfish.

Wales says no one has stocked the rivers. Biologists believe the native fish from healthier waters have made their way into the cleaned-up streams in the basin.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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