The S.C. Department of Natural Resources and its partner organizations were recently awarded a $34,476 grant to enhance fish habitat on two Savannah River reservoirs. The Bass Anglers Sportsman’s Society and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation grant supports efforts to establish shoreline vegetation on Lakes Hartwell and Russell to improve fish habitat.
Grant partners include Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Georgia and South Carolina Bass Anglers Sportsman’s Society (B.A.S.S.) Federations, Lake Hartwell Association, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Call Gene Hayes with the S.C. Carolina Department of Natural Resources (DNR) at (864) 223-1307, Larry Dyck with Lake Hartwell Association at (864) 885-7026 or Jamie Sykes with Corps of Engineers at 1-800-944-7207, extension 3425, for more information on the project or how you can volunteer.
“Shoreline aquatic vegetation is significantly underrepresented on both reservoirs,” said DNR fisheries biologist Hayes. “Annual water level fluctuations on Lake Hartwell and lack of a native aquatic plant seed bed in Lake Russell are considered the primary reasons for the lack of abundant native aquatic plants, especially emergent, shoreline-oriented species.”
The project will demonstrate first hand to bass anglers and homeowners how to use native aquatic vegetation to improve fisheries habitat. B.A.S.S. and Lake Hartwell Association volunteers will work with government agency personnel in planting 5,000 water willow and 2,000 maiden cane plants at pre-selected sites on the two reservoirs over a two-year period. Three thousand water willow plants will be allocated for Lake Russell, and the remainder of vegetation will be planted on Lake Hartwell. Tentative plans are to begin the planting efforts on Lake Hartwell in mid-May. Specific planting dates will be announced in April.
Forty sites on Lake Hartwell and 30 sites on Lake Russell will be selected based on topography, soil type, and identified lack of established emergent aquatic, shoreline vegetation. The plantings will stabilize shoreline substrates and provide structural habitat for shoreline spawning fish species, such as largemouth bass, redear sunfish and bluegill. Plantings will also provide a stable, protective nursery area for juvenile fish. A project goal is to attain at least a 450 square feet coverage area at each site.