The Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Resources Division is one of four states recently recognized by the American Fisheries Society’s Fisheries Administrator’s Section for their efforts to provide the public with quality fishing opportunities and aquatic education programs. Other state agencies recognized include the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, and the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission.
“We had some excellent projects submitted for consideration this year and it is clear that state agencies are responding to both the needs of the anglers and the fish with Sport Fish Restoration Program funds” said Doug Nygren, president-elect of the American Fisheries Society’s Fisheries Administrators Section and the chief of fisheries for the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks.
The Fisheries Administrator’s Section annually recognizes outstanding fisheries conservation projects and programs that are funded from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Sport Fish Restoration program, commonly known as the Wallop- Breaux or Dingell-Johnson grant program. The projects receiving recognition were selected from a score of outstanding proposals submitted from several state fisheries agencies.
Georgia received the “2010 Outstanding Sport Fish Restoration Access Award- Lake Sturgeon Reintroduction in Georgia.” This project benefits anglers in Georgia and Alabama with its far sighted and far reaching efforts to re-establish lake sturgeon in the Coosa River system.
Historically, the Coosa River supported a population of this prehistoric looking game species. However, none have been documented since about 1970. While the exact cause of the decline of this species in Georgia is not known, biologists believe that intense stocking efforts will result in a self-sustaining population in the future. Lake sturgeon eggs are provided by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Warm Springs Hatchery in Georgia.
Sturgeons have a slow growth rate, so biologists do not expect to allow anglers to harvest any fish until 2027. In addition to stocking, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources has also implemented an aggressive outreach effort to involve local school children with the project.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Sport Fish Restoration Program has provided more than $6 billion to state fisheries agencies since the program’s inception in 1950. The program provides critical funding to state agencies for their fisheries conservation and management programs. Additional information on this program can be found at http://wsfrprograms.fws.gov/Subpages/GrantPrograms/SFR/SFR.htm