FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 15, 2002
A landmark conservation agreement has been signed that will improve the status of the robust redhorse by restoring this rare fish to the Ocmulgee River between Lloyd Shoals and Juliett dams in central Georgia. The Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances (CCAA) was developed as a collaborative effort between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Georgia Power Company (Georgia Power) and is a new and innovative approach to restoring imperiled species.
“The completion of the CCAA and the stocking of robust redhorse in the Ocmulgee River marks a major milestone in the conservation efforts by restoring the fish to a section of the Ocmulgee River where it likely occurred historically,” said David Waller, Director for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Resources Division. “This historic event also signals significant progress in the voluntary, proactive conservation of an imperiled species.”
This is the first CCAA to be implemented in the Southeast and only the second in the nation. It is also the first CCAA involving a private company and the first CCAA to be developed for an aquatic species. In return for taking specific conservation actions to recover the robust redhorse, Georgia Power Company will receive assurances regarding their obligations under the Endangered Species Act in the event that this species is listed in the future.
The robust redhorse, a large sucker only known from large rivers along the South Atlantic Coast, was initially described from the Yadkin River, North Carolina, in 1869, but the species was believed to be extinct until it was rediscovered in the Oconee River in 1991. A small population was also discovered in the Ocmulgee River in the Houston Twiggs County area in 1999.
The Robust Redhorse Conservation Committee including the Service, DNR, Georgia Power, and other stakeholders has been working since 1995 to recover the fish. These efforts have included life history research, hatchery propagation using wild broodfish, and establishing new populations of the species in the Broad and Ogeechee Rivers. The CCAA continues these efforts by restoring the fish to a section of the Ocmulgee River.
According to Sam D. Hamilton, Southeast Regional Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, these conservation actions may prevent the need to list the robust redhorse under the federal Endangered Species Act.
“This agreement highlights the cooperation of private industry, the State of Georgia, and the Service to achieve conservation of a rare species so that the Endangered Species Act may never need to come into play,” said Hamilton. “We applaud the cooperative efforts of Georgia Power and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, and their leadership in pursuing conservation for this unique part of Georgia’s natural heritage.”
In addition to the proposed reintroduction, this latest restoration effort will include surveys and monitoring to track the introduced fish and to evaluate the results of stocking.
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