Environment: Tellico Triumph

Defeat for the snail darter

It was the bane of Tennessee politicians and the butt of barroom jokes. For four years the lowly snail darter, a finger-size species of perch, blocked completion of the $116 million Tellico Dam project on the Little Tennessee River. Because the creature was found only in these waters, it was entitled to protection under the 1973 Endangered Species Act. But it also provided legal leverage for environmentalists who saw the dam as a pork barrel that would deluge 16,000 acres of fertile farm land and wipe out Indian historical sites.

Last week the snail darter met defeat. Congress...

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