Once again we’re having a rainy winter. While everyone was enjoying their leftovers, our team at the River Forecast Center was working hard to manage the rain we received early this month. In one week’s period, rainfall was about 300% of normal. As a result, we were spilling at quite a few dams. We’ve been coordinating releases from Kentucky and Barkley Dams with the US Army Corps of Engineers to reduce flooding along the lower Ohio and Mississippi Rivers.
But it’s all in a week’s work for us. We have 80+ years of experience managing the Tennessee River system. We’re keeping an eye on the forecast, and there are employees in the River Forecast Center 24/7/365. (Shout out to all TVA employees who are on the job while others enjoy holiday time with their families. We appreciate you!)
No matter what the weather might do, this is a wonderful time of year for those who enjoy the brisk air and the solemn beauty of the landscape when it’s cold and quiet outside. We invite you to take a stroll or a boat ride while watching for winter wildlife—you might even spot a bald eagle. And just because it’s chilly doesn’t mean you can’t go fishing. Check out our stories below.
Whatever your favorite outdoor activity might be, you can be sure that we continue to care all year round for the lands and waters entrusted to us. Have a wonderful holiday season and you’ll hear from us again in February.
Vice President, River & Resources Stewardship
Late fall: a great time to do some fishing
Looking to catch monster crappie? There's no time like the present! Here, fishing guides from around the Valley share their top tips for reeling in the three-pounders.
Now that’s a chonky catfish
Check this out! Our fishery biologist John Justice hauled in this giant Blue Catfish while conducting TVA’s annual fish survey on Wheeler Lake. The big cat was too large for our onboard scale, but John estimated it weighed between 80 and 100 pounds! As with all species caught during our fish surveys, it was examined and released.
Don’t let a little cold weather keep you from enjoying plenty of things to do on TVA public lands. Here are five ways to do just that.
Count the Birds This Christmas
Not just calling birds, French hens and turtledoves—you can count all the birds you see when you join the annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count. You can be a valuable part of it, even in your own back yard. And this year may be a crucial one for your help.
They Walk the Lines
In the winter chill, you might see TVA staffers walking the land, conducting annual land assessments. Most effective when the leaves are off the trees, these surveys help the team discourage illegal and destructive behavior while planning positive actions to improve the environment for you to enjoy.
Cold outside? You can still go camping
Chilly weather is made for camping—sitting around a campfire toasting marshmallows, watching for winter birds, perhaps spotting a nesting bald eagle. TVA’s six dam reservation campgrounds will open again on March 15, but fans of cold-weather camping can still enjoy their hobby at various developed or undeveloped areas across the Valley. Find everything you need to know here.
When TVA zoologist Liz Hamrick and her team crawled into a cave at Boone Dam, they were looking for evidence of bats that might be roosting there. Instead, they found a colorful surprise—spotted salamanders in the cavern. This is very good news for these species.
Facelifts for TVA’s historic plaques
Using a painstaking process allowed TVA to restore the unique metal maps and other plaques installed at TVA dam reservations decades ago. Now their information is available for future generations. See how it was done, here.
Recycle that Christmas Tree the right way
It’s a great idea to recycle your live Christmas tree, but don’t just chuck it into one of our reservoirs! There’s a right way and a wrong way to safely and effectively dispose of it.
New Year Hiking
If you made a resolution to get more exercise, what better day to start than January 1? Here’s how to have fun and stay safe while starting off 2020 with a walk in the woods.
Have you met these TVA River Neighbors?
Hey, river neighbors and friends – have you met the folks at TVA who help watch over the land and waters that you love? Among the many different groups at TVA, there are teams that spend their days dedicated to taking care of river flows, the public land and the wildlife that populates it. Visit our page, “Powered by People You Know”, and look for these names: Kelvin Young, Kim Pilarski-Hall, Damien Simbeck, Keri Chartrand, Adam Dattilo, Erin Pritchard, Heather Hamilton, Liz Hamrick, Hill Henry, Tom Mayes, Daniel Saint (and many more!)
The Wayback Machine
Quiet, chilly winter days are great for spotting wildlife going about their lives. Here, a deer pauses for the camera at Land Between the Lakes in 1980.
Binge-watch Season 5 of Tennessee Valley Uncharted
Fishing, hiking, exploring caves, sampling tasty treats, hiking with llamas and more—it’s all here in Tennessee Valley Uncharted. Take a journey through the Valley as hosts Erick Baker and Ariel Nicole explore its unique natural wonders, urban secrets, recreation destinations and hidden gems. The TVA-sponsored series has five seasons available. Check your local station for listings, check Amazon Prime, or click here to play episodes.
Explore with the Tennessee River Valley MapGuide
Looking for new places to explore by foot, car or boat? Check out the Tennessee River Valley MapGuide. There are plenty of things to see and do close to home.
Got a question? Ask the PLIC
TVA’s Public Land Information Center (PLIC) is your single source for answers to questions about a variety of public land topics including recreational opportunities and shoreline permits.
Call (800) 882-5263 between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. ET or submit your question online.