A slew of dams had just as much to do with the loss of native fishes from the west as did non-native introductions. Oh and that whole water appropration and diversion to agricultural lands thing. In fact, those dams were in place well before the introduction of non-native fishes, which were stocked because reservoirs were created and recreational fisheries were now available. So before everyone jumps on the "those" scientists bashing bandwagon realize that fisheries science 30-50+ years ago was in its infancy and quite different in many aspects from today. Thought I'd throw in 0.02 on a long quiet topic. I'd like to see a show of hands how many people here didn't start by fishing for non-native fish or in recreational fisheries before we start griping about actions of a few decades ago. There is no doubting that there are many examples of fisheries poorly managed throughout the country, and have impacted our native species and their ecosystems, but it is what it is, in the past. No one here has a time machine and native species conservation has made leaps and bounds. We can only learn from our mistakes and hopefully prevent them from happening again.
My hand's raised on the non-native recreational topic.
Raised as a kid by the one time president of the Catskill Mt TU chapter, I was taught that trout were the ultimate fish and even in the 60s we were doing stream improvments, even stocking eggs - always brown trout. I don't believe I ever caught a native trout in the Catskils to this day.et
I'm often conflicted between love of true native fish and a passion for angling. Yellow perch, pumpkinseeds, pickeral. Thats my whole array of inland native sport fish. May as well take up golf.
Without doubt, dams are far and away the worst threat in most inland rivers and stream. Good luck finding even the tiniest trickle in New England without a 300 year old silted in dam or two. Can't bring back the brook trout till we bring back the brooks.
The Clean Water Act and reams of subsequent EPA regs have acheived nothing short of miraculous improvements in stream quality but still nobody wants to knock down the useless old dams. Baby steps.
State of Maine made a bold move with the removal of the Edwards dam. Not everyone loved the idea. Small mouth bass and brown trout will be subjected to striped bass predation. A native eating the exotics and people raised cain. Sport fishing is a mainstay of the economy of the area.
I haven't heard any recent studies of native recovery after the dam removal but my own observations and those of trusted family members says that the number of sturgeon we see near the mouth of the Kennebec is much more than any of us remember. These are adult fish, 8 feet long, much too old to have directly benifited from the dam's removal, but apparently returning to the river to take advantage of the greatly increased availability of spawning habitat.