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Fish in the Southeast Get Locked Up

Fish in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin can access important habitat thanks to federal, state, and NGO partners and a unique method of getting them past a dam.

In a straight-forward and cost-effective solution, migrating fish are moved past the Jim Woodruff Dam by treating them just like boats or barges. Twice a day, the Army Corps of Engineers throws opens the gates to the existing lock. Species like Alabama shad, striped bass, and Gulf sturgeon move through the concrete structure and on to more than 150 miles of upstream habitat.

Called conservation locking, this method is possible thanks to a fish passage partnership NOAA Fisheries formed with the Army Corps of Engineers, Fish and Wildlife Service, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, and The Nature Conservancy. It will ensure migratory fish continue to successfully reach historic spawning grounds past the Jim Woodruff Lock and Dam on the Florida-Georgia border.

We’re already seeing positive results with significant numbers of shad in the Flint River, as far as 100 miles upstream from the Woodruff Dam. This is particularly important because this fish is facing dramatic declines nationwide. It was recently petitioned to be listed under the Endangered Species Act and is currently listed as a NOAA Fisheries Species of Concern. Recent population estimates suggest that the population may be increasing thanks to the partnership’s fish passage operations at the dam.

Posted March 6, 2012

Jim Woodruff Lock and Dam
Aerial view of the steel lock and water control structure of the Jim Woodruff Lock and Dam. The dam spans the Florida–Georgia border.