- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 14, 2015

GATLINBURG, Tenn. (AP) - Great Smoky Mountains National Park says the Little Tennessee River basin is being designated the nation’s first Native Fish Conservation Area.

The designation identifies the focus on conserving aquatic life together with compatible recreational and commercial uses. The park says in a news release the goal is to ensure long-term survival of native aquatic species.

The Little Tennessee River basin is home to more 100 species of fish, with 41 aquatic animals considered rare at the federal or state level. The basin stretches from North Georgia, across North Carolina and into Tennessee.

Officials are marking the designation with remarks at Abrams Creek in the national park on Wednesday afternoon. Fisheries biologists will release endangered fish into the creek as part of an ongoing project to restore rare fish.

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