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