More Fish: Hartwell Restoration

Habitat improvement project

GREENVILLE, S.C. — The South Carolina Federation Nation is taking steps to make the 2008 Bassmaster Classic fishery a better place for fish to live and ultimately, better fishing for recreational anglers.

South Carolina is partnering with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to roll out a hands-on, grass-roots project aimed at establishing native aquatic plants in Lake Hartwell, where the Classic was held Feb. 22-24, 2008.

The project and its funding are part of the More Fish Campaign, a five-year initiative launched by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) to protect, conserve and enhance the nation's fish populations and their habitat. The campaign aims to improve aquatic habitat in rivers, lakes, reservoirs, estuaries, coastal and marine zones.

The B.A.S.S. Federation Nation and the NFWF formed the partnership to reach out and build the capacity of the Federation Nation in on-the-ground implementation of the National Fish Habitat Action Plan.

Ideally, the Hartwell plantings will provide enhanced habitat for fish in the Savannah River fishery. More importantly, the plantings will add a diverse cross-section of native plants for consistent fish production and growth.

"This is a great centerpiece for what we are trying to achieve across the nation through this program," noted Chris Horton, the national director for BASS Conservation. "What the South Carolina Federation Nation is doing there is just a snapshot of what we hope will take place across the nation through this grass-roots program."

To that end, South Carolina is also joining the Georgia BASS Federation Nation in rolling out a similar project on Lake Russell, located downstream from Lake Hartwell. Both reservoirs straddle the borders of both states. The combined total of funding and in-kind services for the project is $34,500.

The first stage of the project occurred in early June on the South Carolina side of the Classic fishery. Subsequent plantings are scheduled for later this summer, with the project and grant funding running for the next two years.

"The More Fish Initiative grant system gives agencies like NFWF and state agencies the opportunity to effect real, grass-roots change in our nation's fisheries through the national network of BASS Federation Nation member volunteers," said Horton. "We're proud to say that Federation Nation volunteers are the crux of the initiative; their knowledge of, proximity to and desire to improve local and state fisheries are keys to the success of each project.