DNR joins forces with Yamaha in conservation efforts By Lena Hensley

Representatives of the Department of Natural Resources planted three kinds of plants (water willow, pickerelweed and strap leaf sagittaria) on Lake Sinclair Friday, Sept. 22. These plants play an important role in aquatic environments and provide benefits to recreational anglers, according to information from DNR. Plants benefit water quality and fisheries by stabilizing shorelines and preventing erosion while filtering silt, excess nutrients and other contaminants from the water, providing habitat for insects and amphibians that fish eat, nursery habitat for young fish as well as shade and shelter for adult fish. 
DNR presently has active projects at Sinclair, Oconee, Russell, West Point and Clarks Hill, and is starting another one at Allatoona. Planting projects have been going on for about 20 years on a small scale until a new greenhouse (20-feet wide and 96-feet long) was constructed in Oct. 2016 at the DNR Wildlife Resources Division Walton Fish Hatchery in Social Circle. According to DNR, the $9,000 construction cost of the greenhouse was covered by Yamaha Marine Group. Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division used Sport Fish Restoration funds to complete onsite preparation, installation and outfitting of the inside of the greenhouse with troughs and plant containers.    
According to Chris Nelson, fisheries biologist, current capacity of the greenhouse is about 7,000 plants at a time. New plants typically take around six to eight weeks to grow and mature. The planting season is late spring through summer (May-Sept.), and three different crops of vegetation can be grown and planted during this time frame. Annual capacity is around 21,000 plants. Plantings in the reservoirs (lakes) usually occur about every eight weeks.  Around 1,500-2,000 plants are normally planted per trip; however, only 200 plants were planted on Sept. 22 for the purpose of demonstration. Areas away from the heavy traffic are selected for planting to ensure rooting of plants because waves caused by passing boats prevent that. 
In the past, DNR was raising plants in small troughs at the Walton Hatchery during the growing season but was limited in what they could produce. A new greenhouse will allow DNR to significantly increase production so that plantings can be done in many more locations than before and at a much larger scale than in the past. Mitch Hunter, Yamaha representative, said the capacity of the greenhouse was sufficient to provide planting needs of the entire state.  
The Yamaha Marine Group has been promoting conservation throughout the state of Georgia and the country. It has a history of supporting the Georgia DNR, having also pledging $75,000 to fund a public-private data collection project and having worked with the Georgia DNR on crisis response initiatives. The ongoing data collection project aims to assess the impact of new conservation devices on red snapper and redfish populations in the South Atlantic with the hopes of increasing both conservation and recreational fishing access for Georgia anglers. Yamaha’s assistance with crisis response includes providing equipment for use by DNR during times of extreme weather.  
The Georgia DNR and Yamaha Marine are natural partners because of the dedication of both organizations to conservation and sportsmen. Yamaha Marine works with a large coalition of recreational fishing organizations to advance these ideals, including American Sportfishing Association, Center for Sportfishing Policy, Coastal Conservation Association, Recreational Fishing Alliance and Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership.  
DNR officials said they will continue to conduct aquatic habitat enhancement projects at Lake Sinclair this year. High on the list of projects will be construction of fish attractors built with artificial materials. Another piece of the enhancement program consists of shoreline enhancement and protection through bioengineering.  Division personnel will continue planting maidencane, pickerel plant and water willow in suitable habitat areas in the lake that will provide cover for fish and help stabilize erosion problems.  

 

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