Sunday, March 17, 2013
The End Of The Connecticut River Salmon Restoration Project
As many of you already know, the 40+ year effort to "restore" Atlantic Salmon to the Connecticut River system ended in 2012 as the Feds pulled the plug on this "doomed" project.
I placed two of the above words with quotation marks for a reason. The project was "doomed" because you can't "restore" something that really, in all reality, was never there in the first place.
The were no millions of salmon surging up the Connecticut River in early colonial times. There were millions of shad and herring but the salmon was a rarity. Why do I say that? Because salmon remains do not show up in the archaeological record in the Connecticut Rive basin or anywhere else in Southern New England. Every other anadromous species does show up in the areas where indigenous people fished for them.
So what about the stories that came down through history of salmon abundance on the Connecticut. At worst these were tall tales to showcase this new land and to draw settlers from England and at best they were species confusion (shad became salmon).
Even the tale of the salmon's sudden disappearance is fishy. The first dams were built and in just a handful of years (by 1814) the salmon had disappeared from the ENTIRE watershed. First, why is the Connecticut River the only major salmon river to loose it's salmon so quickly? Other major rivers were dammed but held onto their runs for decades. The Penobscot had dams but still had salmon runs. Spawning habitat existed in the lower reaches of the Connecticut below the dams but no salmon survived there??? Shad and herring survived! Maybe there were no salmon in the Connecticut.
For more on this I suggest that you google "Catherine Carlson NPS Archeology Program" for a very good read. Carlson runs with the theory that the whole salmon restoration was run by a faith in folklore without any REAL scientific (archaeological)facts.
Now we can get busy saving the fish that have always been there like shad and herring.
Posted by Millers River Flyfisher at 12:53 PM