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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

The Living on Earth Almanac

Air Date: Week of

Facts about... a Supreme Court ruling and the snail darter fish.


CURWOOD: This year marks the 20th anniversary of a precedent-setting Supreme Court ruling to protect a small fish known as the snail darter. The story began in 1975, when law professor Zygmunt Plater and student Hiram Hill filed the first ever endangered species petition to protect the snail darter. The petition requested that the 3-inch-long fish living in the Little Tennessee River be listed as a species in threat of extinction. The threat? Construction of the Tellico Dam by the Tennessee Valley Authority. In 1976 Messrs. Plater and Hill sued the Authority to stop the dam. A year later, the US Supreme Court ruled in their favor. But the court left a way for Congress to exempt the dam from the Endangered Species Act, which is exactly what Congress did. In January of 1980 the dam was completed, sealing the fate of the Little Tennessee River and its darter population. But later, in nearby streams, an additional population was found, and in July of 1984 the snail darter was reclassified as threatened. And for this week, that's the Living on Earth Almanac.



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