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‘It’s very good for the soul.’ Bo Baxter and Conservation Fisheries focus underwater to save our Southern fishes.
This is the latest installment of an occasional series, Hellbent, profiling citizens and organizations who work to preserve and improve the Southern Appalachian environment.
KNOXVILLE — For more than 35 years, an obscure nonprofit headquartered here has grown into one of the most quietly successful champions of ecology and environmental restoration in the Eastern United States.
Conservation Fisheries, which occupies a 5,000-square foot facility near the Pellissippi State University campus on Division Street, has spent nearly four decades restoring native fish populations to numerous waterways damaged years ago by misguided governmental policies.
In fact, the mid-20th century saw wildlife officials frequently exterminating key aquatic species to make way for game fish like trout.
“It was bad science, but it was the best they had at the time,” said Conservation Fisheries Executive Director Bo Baxter. “A lot of the central concepts of ecology, like food webs and communities, were not developed back then.”
JR Shute and Pat Rakes declare semi-retirement, hand over operations to Hellbender Press board member
KNOXVILLE — A career biologist with deep experience in Southern Appalachian aquatic systems is the new captain of Conservation Fisheries.
The highly productive and robust nonprofit aims to secure, augment, preserve and protect the aquatic environs of the Southeast, namely through the reintroduction of native fish to areas they once inhabited
Bo Baxter spent 25 years as a conservation biologist at the Tennessee Valley Authority. He became an active board member at Conservation Fisheries, Inc. (CFI) upon his retirement from TVA. He soaked up knowledge of its operations and was named executive director as of Oct. 20. His path comes full circle, as he was one of the first paid staff members at Conservation Fisheries, some three decades ago.
Baxter is a member of the Hellbender Press editorial board.