April 26, 2005
Wildlife conservationists began a five year process Tuesday of replenishing the Rivanna River of American Shad. The tiny fish have been missing from the river for a better part of 35 years. A joint effort by the Rivanna Conservation society and the Virginia Department of Game and inland fisheries launched 400,000 fish into the river at Darden Town Park.
Jason Halbert from the Rivanna Conservation Society said, "This will be great for the environment, great for the economy, and great for fun."
Department of Game and inland fisheries spokesman Alan Weaver added "now the numbers of shad are so low that a harvest moratorium has been in place for commercial fishing and recreational fishing for shad."
The tiny fish will swim downstream and eventually out to the Atlantic Ocean to grow. Under a proposed plan, the Woolen Mills Dam will be partially breached allowing the shad to come back to spawn and bring new life to the river. Halbert says "thousands and thousands of fish come up the river. Birds like eagles and ospreys, herons and other species follow the spring shad run and the herrings run and they feed on these fish."
Young conservationists at the launching this morning realized the importance of river life.
Walton student Paige Lipscob thinks its a good thing. "Fish are important to our environment and we must take care of the fish to make sure that they live," she said.
In the end, conservationists hope that this plan will bring people back to the Rivanna River making it a haven for fishing and fun.