By Chuck Walker
MOBILE, Ala. – It is said when you face a problem that, sometimes, it is best to have more than one person working to try and figure out a solution.
That is precisely what the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Mobile District is doing along with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Alabama Ecological Services Office, the Alabama Department of Environmental Management, the Geological Survey of Alabama, and The Natural Conservancy are doing regarding the Alabama River.
The agencies have teamed together better to understand the biodiversity in the Lower Alabama River.
Through the Sustainable Rivers Program, the Mobile District, the TNC, and other agencies are studying ways to improve fish passage lockages on the Alabama River.
“This is the first recorded use of river trawling for sampling the lower Alabama River,” said T. J. Rickey, Mobile District biologist and Sustainable Rivers Program manager. “
The Mobile District is conducting the Claiborne and Millers Ferry Locks and Dams Fish Passage Study. The study aims to evaluate federal interest in establishing fish passage through restoring connectivity in the Alabama and Cahaba Rivers to address the impacts of dams on the fish population.
The fish passage will directly address the loss of habitat connectivity for fish movement in the river system. It will allow the river ecosystem to be resilient to external stressors within a specific range of natural variation, maintaining a self-sustaining condition of the ecosystem.
“USACE is excited about the opportunity to learn about and potentially improve the habitat for fish in the Lower Alabama River,” said James Hathorn, Mobile District Chief of Water Management.
The District conducted a series of public meetings during the summer to inform the public of the study, explain it to them, and get their feedback.
Rickey said it’s been thrilling to study the river and search for solutions with our partners to help the fish populations in the rivers of Alabama thrive.
“This is an incredibly exciting opportunity to understand what lives in our rivers and how to help them thrive,” said Rickey. “Through the Sustainable Rivers Program, the Mobile District has explored environmental improvement solutions across our River Basins.”