There is now one less than the approximately 1500 dams that block the natural flow of Hudson River tributaries -- and the herring love it. Immediately upon removal of a crusty old metal barrier on the Wynants Kill in Troy, NY, thousands of alewife rushed up the stream to exercise their historical spawning rite -- the first time in 85 years.
Alewife or Branch Herring. (Pomolobus Pseudoharengus). By Sherman F. Denton. Chromolithograph, 1895-1909. From the New York State report titled “Fish and Game of the State of New York.”
Riverkeeper picks up the story:
The project – a collaborative effort by Riverkeeper, the state Department of Environmental Conservation and the City of Troy – is the first of its kind in the Hudson River estuary. It signals the potential for many more such projects under a new state initiative.
“The restoration of historic spawning habitat is an important component of DEC’s river herring fisheries management plan,” Acting DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said. “This barrier mitigation project is the first of its kind on a tributary of the Hudson River estuary and will also help reduce localized flooding and improve water quality.”
River herring are one of the most important species which return to the Hudson from the Atlantic to spawn. Since the 1960s, river herring populations up and down the Atlantic Coast have significantly declined due to overharvest and the loss of spawning habitat. Federal and state biologists prioritize the restoration of this habitat as one of the best ways to encourage herring stocks to recover from current historic lows.
Following the removal of a metal barrier May 4 by the City of Troy, the DEC observed hundreds of alewives, a species of herring, entering the stream. American eel, white sucker, yellow perch and other fish have also gained access to the Wynants Kill.
The dam removal was funded by the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) through a Hudson River Estuary Program Grant for “Tributary Restoration and Resiliency,” awarded to the City of Troy in January of this year.
“We’re very proud of the City of Troy for being first in this initiative. By helping to restore life to this stream, Troy is demonstrating that communities can not only benefit from the river, they can also benefit the river in return,” Riverkeeper Captain John Lipscomb said. “The river is better off today than before Troy took this action. How many communities can say the same?”
More from Riverkeeper at this link.