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Tennessee Valley Authority

Site subsidiary: River Operations
Site name: Raccoon Mountain Pump Storage Plant
Location: Chattanooga, TN USA
Wildlife at Work certified since: 2001


The Raccoon Mountain Pump Storage Plant was built on a 3,000-acre site within an escarpment in a Tennessee River gorge, six miles west of Chattanooga, Tennessee. Steep slopes and rugged terrain characterize the site and the power generation facility is located in the mountain, which designers saw as an opportunity to develop and protect wildlife habitat areas while also allowing for recreational and informational opportunities for the public. A comprehensive site management plan was developed to encourage public use. Access roads feature a relatively narrow mowed-grass area on either side in order to maintain as much undisturbed, natural habitat as possible. Native plants were used for landscaping projects and eastern bluebird boxes were installed in several locations of the property. These and other related efforts lead to the site's designation as a State Wildlife Observation Area by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.

The Raccoon Mountain Pumped Storage Plant continues to maintain as much undisturbed natural habitat as possible and develops additional programs beneficial to wildlife and the community. Raccoon Mountain continues to provide food, shelter and cover opportunities for native wildlife. Active programs ensure the placement of nest boxes and roosts for cavity-nesting songbirds, American kestrels, ospreys and bats. Furthermore, annual site plantings and revegetation efforts use native plant species and establish wildlife food plots, two acres of which were recently planted with a wildlife mix by employees.

In 2007, the wildlife team and Cub Scouts created a rain garden composed of all native plants. The rain garden provides habitat for a variety of species and helps to improve water quality by increasing water infiltration into the soil. In 2009, scouts also built artificial nesting structures for owls and kestrels. Songbird nest boxes were built and installed with the help of Cub Scouts. The nest boxes are intended to encourage an increase in the local population of bluebirds, chickadees, finches, wrens, swallows and nuthatches, among other birds. In addition, each Cub Scout involved in the project built an extra box to take home and install, spreading bird habitat enhancement throughout the community. Employees and volunteers also placed bat boxes throughout the property. The Cub Scout group helped install the two single-chamber bat roosting boxes that were placed at the site and built boxes and feeders to take home. In 2004, employees redesigned and replanted the pollinator garden habitat area with the help of approximately 25 children and several parents. The result was the creation of two butterfly gardens, which include black-eyed Susan, coreopsis, stonecrop and butterfly bush.

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