“The ecosystem is greater than the sum of its parts.” Eugene Odum
All around the world conservation groups, government agencies, academic institutions, and private companies are working together in efforts to restore aquatic connectivity and reduce habitat fragmentation by razing dams and restructuring road-stream crossings. Georgia has its fair share of aquatic connectivity projects. We have seen the removal of dams on the Chattahoochee River in Columbus and the removal of White Dam in Athens. One project you may have not heard of is the Mill Creek/Rocky Flats Fish Passage Project in the Chattahoochee National Forest in Murray County.
The Mill Creek Fish Passage Project was a joint effort between The Nature Conservancy, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Georgia DNR. A damaged culvert was replaced with a bottomless arch culvert (pictured). The streambed of this popular trout stream was restored to its natural condition. Several threatened and endangered aquatic species like the Blue shiner and the Georgia Pigtoe will now be able to utilize the several miles of valuable habitat located upstream of the Rocky Flats trail.
Comparable to dams, culverts can fragment habitats and create barriers which restrict movement up and downstream for aquatic organisms. This restriction can lead to increased competition for food, habitat, and mates; increases in predation; and an interruption of natural breeding and spawning cycles. Furthermore, these barriers can affect genetic diversity when populations of fish are separated into localized groups. The restoring of aquatic connectivity is necessary to allow aquatic ecosystems to interact and increase biodiversity. The conservation of biodiversity is crucial in preserving ecosystem resiliency.
Read more about some of Georgia’s aquatic connectivity projects.
- Mill Creek/Rocky Flats Fish Passage Project
- White Dam Removal: https://www.warnell.uga.edu/research/news/one-year-later-dam-removal-already-reveals-benefits
- Stream restoration in Columbus: https://www.nature.org/en-us/newsroom/stream-restoration-in-columbus-georgia/
World Fish Migration Day is October 24, 2020 (Connecting fish, rivers, and people)