Wildlife Commission Seeks Volunteers for Aquatic Enhancement Project on Harris Lake

  • 31 May 2019
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RALEIGH, N.C. (May 31, 2019) — The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission is seeking volunteers for an aquatic habitat enhancement project on Harris Lake this summer.

Volunteers are needed to plant vegetation and build and install artificial fish attractors in the 4,100-acre reservoir during June 18-22 and July 9-13. The purpose of the project is to improve the aquatic habitat in the lake for fish and wildlife, particularly largemouth bass and crappie, now that the lake is under a hydrilla control program.

The vegetation work will be located in shallow areas and near the shorelines so volunteers will need to wear water shoes that protect their feet and toes. They should also bring gloves, if they have them, for building fenced-in areas to protect planted vegetation. Volunteers building and installing artificial attractors will be helping to assemble and organize attractors on shore and deploy them from a boat. Bring a life jacket if possible, or one will be provided for you.

Because agency staff need to plan work and staff appropriately, volunteers need to register a week in advance of each event with Mark Fowlkes, the Commission’s Aquatic Habitat Coordinator. Fowlkes can be reached at mark.fowlkes@ncwildlife.org or 336-466-0541.

The Division of Water Resources (DWR) began implementing hydrilla control efforts in the lake in December 2018. These efforts included stocking sterile grass carp, which eat hydrilla, and treating around boat ramps with herbicides to reduce the chances of hydrilla spreading to other waterbodies on boats, trailers and other equipment.

Hydrilla is an invasive aquatic weed that was first observed in the lake in 1988 and since that time has spread substantially throughout the lake. Harris Lake is a source population for the spread of hydrilla to other waterbodies in the state, where the long-term environmental and economic impacts can be devastating.

In conjunction with DWR’s hydrilla control efforts, the Commission began the aquatic habitat enhancement project, which is scheduled for at least five years, in 2018. Staff initially planted native vegetation at 14 sites and installed 50 artificial fish attractors in the lake. Biologists hope to establish approximately 30 acres of artificial and natural structures and approximately 1 acre of founder colonies of native vegetation plants once the project has been completed.

The project is funded through the Sport Fish Restoration Program, which utilizes state fishing license money and federal grant funds derived from federal excise taxes on fishing equipment and motorboat fuels.

Media Contact:

Jodie B. Owen

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