Group Tries to Restore Native Fish Population in Madison - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Group Tries to Restore Native Fish Population in Madison

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Garth Run in Madison County Garth Run in Madison County

A restoration project is underway in Madison County, to bring back the native brook trout population that a severe flood all but wiped out.

The project focuses on the trout population in Garth Run. Over the years, research showed that the fish had no problem naturally reproducing in the upper and lower parts of the stream, but it was a different story for the middle section.

Environmentalists are confident they have a solution.

Hidden in the mountains of Madison County is Garth Run, a stream that at one time was thriving with native brook trout. But the flood of 1995 devastated the population, and nearly 20 years later, there's an effort to restore what was lost.

"And what it did was it flushed out a lot of the rock and structure the trout used for cover," said James Damron, president of the Thomas Jefferson Chapter of Trout Unlimited.

"This middle section of the stream, its low-gradient nature, it's kind of like a meadow. It really hadn't healed. The water was very shallow. It was just a big riffle," said Steve Owens, a fisheries biologist.

That environment provided a good nursery habitat for young fish, but it wasn't ideal for the adults. Now, the Thomas Jefferson Chapter of Trout Unlimited and the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries are in the second phase of placing natural materials into the stream for the adult trout to reproduce.

"So we're actually coming in and putting pools in and we have moved the stream back into its original channel," said Larry Mohn, president of Shenandoah Stream Works.

"We've been putting in root wads and other log structures and large rocks. It provides the overhead cover and gives them protection from aerial predators," Owens said.

A total of 21 stream structures will be installed, connecting 2.5 miles of continuous habitat, including to the upper and lower trout populations that were naturally reproducing.

The project is expected to be finished within the next two weeks and is being funded by grant money.

The Thomas Jefferson Chapter of Trout Unlimited is looking for volunteers. Anyone who would like to help can email Damron at damron1961@comcast.net.

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