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Endangered Species Act of 1973: Should the Tellico Dam Have Been Built?
In the 1970s, environmentalists and other groups sued the federal government to stop construction of the Tellico Dam, a project that would turn the lower 33 miles of the Little Tennessee River into a reservoir. The dam, they argued, would result in the extinction of the snail darter, a local type of fish protected by the Endangered Species Act. They further argued that the dam would submerge rich farmland, deprive people of their property, and destroy historic and archaeological sites. Supporters of the dam argued that the Endangered Species Act did not apply in this case. They further argued that the dam would generate needed economic development for the region, provide new recreational opportunities, and improve residents’ standard of living. The case ultimately ended up before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Let your students get the facts and decide for themselves: Should the Tellico Dam have been built? Be sure to check out Issues & Controversies in American History’s clear and unbiased examination of the Tellico Dam and the Endangered Species Act of 1973 this month.
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