Construction of the proposed Veteran Memorial Bridge across the Coosawattee River in Ellijay, Georgia required an endangered fish survey. Two federally threatened fish species, the Goldline darter (Percina aurolineata) and the Blue shiner (Cyprinella caerulea), have been documented as occurring within the project vicinity. Because of concerns one or more of these species might be present at or near the proposed bridge, Dinkins Biological Consulting (DBC) was contracted to survey the project area for protected fish.
In the vicinity of the proposed bridge, the channel ranged from 15 and 21 meters wide (mean = 18 m) and depths ranged from 0.3 to 2 m (mean = 1.2 m). The substrate was dominated by sand and gravel and small to medium boulders were occasional and scattered. A representative sample of all species was preserved in 10% formalin, and specimens were deposited at the University of Tennessee Research Collection of Fishes in Knoxville, where they were identified, measured, and permanently archived.
After two days of surveying, a total of 153 fish representing 14 species were collected in the survey reach. The federally threatened Goldline darter was found upstream and downstream of the proposed bridge crossing. No Blue shiners were found during the survey. One juvenile Goldline darter (approximately 40 millimeters, total length) was found in an aggregation of small, submerged boulders near the left descending bank, approximately 214 m (702 ft) upstream of the proposed bridge. These boulders were found near the head of a long pool that extends downstream well past the proposed bridge crossing. Another, slightly larger Goldline darter (approximately 50 millimeters, total length) was found along the right descending bank in the vicinity of a rock gabion wall approximately 170 m (559 ft) downstream of the proposed bridge crossing. A few meters downstream of the rock gabion wall, the river enters a long reach dominated by boulders and swift water. The swift water continues downstream for another couple hundred meters. A total of five adult Goldline darters were found in this swift water.