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Organizations: The Nature Conservancy

Like the eroding power of a waterfall on the rocks below, the recent decimation of the small darter fish in the mountains has a far-reaching effect on other species further up the food chain, such as the trout prized by anglers across the region, and ultimately the people casting those lines.

To address this crisis, the Nature Conservancy is working with several partners, including farmers, state and local governments, and corporate giants such as Coca-Cola and United Parcel Service, to plant more trees, shift engineering practices to mimic natural hydrology, and find new ways to filter toxins from agriculture and drainage ditches before they enter the water.

“Our mission is to conserve the land and water that all life depends on, while balancing the real-world needs of people,” says Deron Davis, executive director of the Nature Conservancy in Georgia. “Right now, land disturbance is dramatically diminishing the life cycles of certain fish.”

Founded in 1951, the global entity is one of the world’s largest and leading conservation organizations, working in a variety of habitats including reefs, oyster beds and grasslands in all 50 states and 35 countries. The Georgia chapter, which started in the late 1960s, employs 36 staffers who manage 15 preserves while protecting more than 315,000 acres in the state.

The Upper Coosa River Basin is especially critical because it supports the highest percentage of native species of any other basin in North America, and it helps provide Atlanta with drinking water.

“Using a combination of scientific expertise and policy-making, we pursue pragmatic, market-based solutions to these conservation challenges,” Davis says, “to make sure future generations have these resources.”

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