Ospreys (like bald eagles and peregrine falcons) had become extinct in the Tennessee Valley watershed by the 1970’s, due to the impact of DDT (. In the mid-1980’s, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) in conjunction with other organizations and individuals in the private sector, reintroduced ospreys by “hacking” young birds on man-made nest platforms along the Tennessee River.
Bob Caldwell (my uncle) was instrumental in hacking osprey at his elbow lake in the Tennessee River Gorge, now known as Tennessee River Gardens (TRG). Pictured here is Troy Hall, the former caretaker, feeding young ospreys before they fledged in 1985. The success of this and other area hacking sites was critical to bringing the osprey population back to Chattanooga. I have installed two osprey platforms at TRG and successfully fledged five chicks in both the 2014 and 2015 breeding seasons.
In 1986 Lil Dubke, with the Chattanooga Audubon Society, got the contractor for the Veterans Bridge to install pillars for two hacking platforms erected at Maclellan/Audubon Island in downtown Chattanooga. The upstream platform is still used each season by osprey to breed successfully, but the downstream platform is in such disrepair that osprey efforts to nest there in recent years have failed.