Fish have adapted to lock and dam

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The pro side of destroying the New Savannah Bluff Lock and Dam appears to rest primarily in the assumed benefits this would give the short-nosed sturgeon.

Looking at what destroying the lock and dam would actually do for the sturgeon makes these assumed benefits highly questionable.

First, tests run in 2004 to determine if sturgeon would benefit from higher release rates from Thurmond Dam showed that the sturgeon did not like the colder water from the lake. The water temperature in the river dropped 4 degrees Centigrade because of the colder lake waters, and the sturgeon left for other inland rivers.

The water temperatures at the Augusta Shoals at the time of spawning is much colder than the 4-degree drop experienced in these tests, making the shoals very unattractive to the sturgeon.

Second, the short-nosed sturgeon has not had access to the Augusta Shoals since 1937. Simple logic says that, without training, the current generation of sturgeon probably would not venture north of the lock and dam even if they tolerated the colder water temperatures.

Beyond the supposed benefits to the sturgeon, environmentalists who are in favor of destroying the lock and dam reason that it eliminates the effects of man on nature. But in this case, destroying the lock and dam is contradictory to this line of reasoning, because it can only be accomplished by man making major changes to conditions that have existed in nature since 1937.

I am a conservationist. The impact on man should be factored in as well as what is happening in nature. If the impact on man is considered, it weighs heavily against destroying the lock and dam.

This, plus the questionable benefits to the sturgeon and the contradiction of man interfering with nature to prevent man interfering with nature, leads to a decision that the lock and dam should not be destroyed.

Jerry Clontz


(The writer is spokesman for the environmental advocacy group Save Our Lakes Now.)

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Bert Ellis
Bert Ellis 03/29/11 - 10:20 pm
Destroying the lock and dam

Destroying the lock and dam will benefit land owners below the dam. That is a reason past the short-nosed or robust redhorse. The river is on the rise!! Come see it. With the dam gone, we may get to use our non-river front land more year round.

Techfan 03/30/11 - 10:36 am
"environmental advocacy

"environmental advocacy group"? You have to be kidding. It 's a front group for builders, marinas, and lake property owners. Much like his efforts to keep lake levels high so he can get his $1,500 per week for his lakefront rental property, Mr Clontz appears to be a spokeman for businesses and property owners, not an environmental advocate.

burninater 03/30/11 - 11:35 am
"Tests run in 2004" ...

"Tests run in 2004" ... Anything more specific than that? Who ran the tests? How were the sturgeon tracked to determine they left for other inland waters? If they were in fact tracked, how is it known that a 4 degree water temperature drop was the reason for their flight?

This 2007 report indicates that much less is known of the short-nosed sturgeon populations in the Savannah than this letter suggests.

It is true that natural systems respond to changes, and that it is not clear if the shoals can be returned to their pre-1937 state. However, just stating that is the case in a LTE does not make it so.

JakeQ 03/30/11 - 12:58 pm
To me the pro-side to

To me the pro-side to removing the dam is relieving the federal taxpayer of a burden that provides no national benefits (interstate commerce). If local government, as a reflection of the will of the people wants to assume those costs to protect the local benefits (boat races, the Riverwalk), that's a valid case to make for keeping it.

In regards to the sturgeon, we still have to care for the environment, and I cannot see how the sturgeon are "fine" or that they've adapted. Their population is almost gone from the system.

One valid question I see in the letter and burninater's comments is how has the water temperature change (from building Thurmond Dam), affected where the sturgeon go?

I have to question, too, the suggestion that fish need "training." That made me chuckle.

dashiel 03/30/11 - 10:46 pm
Mr. Clontz should interview

Mr. Clontz should interview some sturgeon. Though not a very attractive fish, these boogers don't need to bum any Aricept either. Their memories are excellent already and their migration radar is programmed into their DNA as it has been for millions of years. All they need is for us to get out of their way. Like shad, they feel water temps and know when to run.

A gradual, sensible drawdown would not affect shoreline nearly as much as our 19th century alarmists maintain. It all depends on whether we (and the sturgeon, etc.) want a reasonable facsimile of a river, or the turgid canal we call one now.

Crime Reports and Rewards TV
Crime Reports and Rewards TV 03/30/11 - 03:59 pm
A Sturgeon fish ladder is so

A Sturgeon fish ladder is so easy to build, my men & i could do it if the powers to be let us.

corgimom 03/30/11 - 07:16 pm
"Simple logic says that,

"Simple logic says that, without training, the current generation of sturgeon probably would not venture north of the lock and dam even if they tolerated the colder water temperatures."

How do you "train" fish?

Riverman1 03/30/11 - 09:17 pm
I agree with some of the

I agree with some of the letter, but not about releases from Thurmond Dam being harmful to the sturgeon. Matter of fact the great experiment with trout being introduced to the river because of the supposedly cooler water releases from the bottom of Thurmond Dam was an abject failure. One guy claimed he caught a trout a couple of years later, but most of us think that was wishful thinking.

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