As part of a decade-long partnership called the Sustainable Rivers Project, the US Army Corps of Engineers and The Nature Conservancy are collaborating in eight river basins across the U.S. to modify dam operations for the benefit of downstream river and estuary health. In five of those basins – the Savannah River in Georgia and South Carolina, the Green River of Kentucky, the Bill Williams River of Arizona, the Big Cypress Bayou of Texas, and the Willamette River in Oregon – the Corps is releasing ‘designer floods’ from their dams.
According to river scientists, muddy, raging flood waters can be good for regeneration and growth. They can encourage fish migration and spawning, weltand plant and floodplain regeneration, the formation of aquatic habitats, and nourishment of food chains and fisheries from essential nutrients being carried in to coastal estuaries.
The more than 50,000 large dams built on the world’s rivers have been quite effective in dampening or completely eliminating all but the biggest floods. The aquatic life in dammed rivers has suffered greatly. Nearly 40% of US fish species are imperiled or extinct, and dams are a leading cause.
That’s why the Corps of Engineers, historically the biggest dam-builder in the U.S., is now in the business of making floods. They do it by intentionally releasing large volumes of water from their dams at specific times of the year to reinvigorate river ecosystems in a carefully controlled manner that promises maximum ecological benefit while avoiding damage to structures, roads, and farms.
Photo credit: US Army Corps of Engineers
The first Wild Salmonid Management Zone for steelhead has been designated in Washington State by the Department of Fish and Wildlife. The new zone covers the entire Sol Duc River on the Olympic Peninsula, spanning nearly 227 square miles. The river drains directly into the Pacific Ocean from the west coast of Washington and is one the most productive systems for wild steelhead in the state.
“Maximizing genetic diversity in salmon and steelhead populations is the key to preserving fishing opportunities,” said Guido Rahr, President of the Wild Salmon Center. “Managing the Sol Duc as a wild steelhead zone is the critical first step of investing in our future fisheries.”
Wild Salmonid Management Zones (or WSMZ’s) provide fish an excellent opportunity to adapt to ever‐changing environmental conditions. The zones are only selected for salmon and steelhead populations that are the most productive, genetically diverse, and abundant and where their habitats are healthy enough for rearing and spawning.
The establishment of this new management zone was the result of many organizations and concerned citizens working together. Though the zone is official, there is still more work to be done.
“The designation has good potential, but it is important to determine what management actions should be put into place to protect spawning steelhead from increasing fishing pressure,” said Mel Moon, Director of Natural Resources for the Quileute Tribe.
Over the coming years, the Wild Salmon Center will be working with its partners to improve fishery regulations, pursue long‐term monitoring funding, and to identify other candidate rivers for Wild Salmonid Management Zone designation.
Incredible [pictures have emerged of the frozen Danube River as the ice finally begins to break up. The Danube River - one of Europe’s key waterways — has this winter been stuck in the longest freeze in recent memory.
The Danube River — one of Europe’s key waterways — is stuck in the longest freeze in recent memory. Huge chunks of ice floated down the middle of the Danube on Friday in southern Romania while water close to the banks remained iced over, with barges, boats and ships tangled in a wintry web.
The DanubeRiver flows through nine countries, starting in Germany’s Black Forest, before passing through Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania, and Ukraine.
At least four Balkan nations suspended shipping on the Danube on Feb. 14 because of heavy ice on the river. Authorities say up to 90 percent of the river surface is covered with floating ice, making it extremely difficult to traverse Europe’s main commercial waterway, which winds 2,860-kilometer (1,777-mile) from Germany and serves as the natural border between Bulgaria and Romania.
Keeping the Danube frozen is a climate pattern called a "Russian Winter." In this pattern, a strong Siberian anticyclone hovers over northern Russia and triggers intense cold and snow, according to a NASA statement. The river began to ice over in early February as temperatures plunged to minus 20 Celsius (-4 Fahrenheit). The freeze followed a drought in the fall in which water levels had dropped so low that it was interfering with shipping along the international waterway.
Costache Constantin, manager of Europolis Shipping & Trading shipping company, said he’d never seen such a drawn-out freeze on the Danube since he began working in the industry in 1981.
The Danube Delta leading into the Black Sea in Romania has completely frozen. In Serbia, ice-breakers were summoned from Hungary in an attempt to keep the Danube flowing, while army demolition experts sought to dynamite ice barriers that threatened to provoke flooding on tributary rivers, including the Ibar.
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