Bishopville Dam Removal and Fish Passage Almost Complete - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Bishopville Dam Removal and Fish Passage Almost Complete

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Alewife (Courtesy: Maryland Coastal Bays) Alewife (Courtesy: Maryland Coastal Bays)
White perch (Courtesy: Md. Coastal Bays) White perch (Courtesy: Md. Coastal Bays)

BISHOPVILLE, Md.- The 1.4-million-dollar Bishopville Dam Removal project is almost complete after ten years.

According to Maryland Coastal Bays, the purpose of this project is to modify the previous dam to allow fish passage and water quality improvement through nutrient removal. Officials say this dam modification will allow fish such as river herring and white perch access to seven miles of upstream habitat for spawning and nursery.

The project was designed and constructed by Underwood Associates and was funded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Department of Natural Resources as well as Maryland Coastal Bays Program.

“We had funding, and then we lost it, and we had to find different funding and get the entire community involved in supporting it,” Amanda Poskaitis, project coordinator for Maryland Coastal Bays said. “We know all the neighbors around the project and everyone has been very supportive.”

Maryland Coastal Bays considers this the most important project to improve water quality in the St. Martins River. The area is a 2.5-acre pond with 600 feet of stream restoration, Coastal Bays said.

Poskaitis says taking out the dam has opened up seven miles of fish spawning habitat and they have caught Alewife and White Perch above where the dam used to be and throughout the entire project, which means it is working successfully.

“Alewife and White Perch were the two species we were looking for to come up stream,” Poskaitis said. “The fish come from saltwater or brackish water and they have to spawn up freshwater streams and if they can't get up these fresh water streams it is really detrimental to the species.”

Poskaitis says although there is not enough information to list the species as endangered, they are not doing well mostly because of dam blocking.

Maryland Coastal Bays says they started monitoring the area in the beginning of April and they will be monitoring the area for five years.

“We have a net out and we check them twice daily to make sure there are not turtles or fish in the net,” Poskaitis said. “That's where we caught Alewife and White Perch as well as Pumpkinseed, Bluegills, Golden Shiners and a bunch of other species.”

The organizations is also cast netting three times a week.

“It's pretty amazing that we've caught these species that haven't been able to get upstream like this in 56 years,” Poskaitis said.

Maryland Coastal Bays says in the future this will help focus on habitat restoration, environmental education and monitoring of fish and water quality.

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