Preliminary Assessment of an Alaska Steeppass Fishway on a North Carolina Blackwater Creek

Despite the large number of low-head dams on North Carolina streams and rivers, fishways have rarely been used to restore access to habitat upstream of dams. The goal of this study was to determine the use of a prefabricated Alaska steeppass fishway installed at a low-head dam on Black Creek, a blackwater tributary of the Neuse River near Smithfield, North Carolina. Between 21 February and 2 June 2003 study period, the ladder was used by 949 gizzard shad (Dorosoma cepedianum), 2 American shad (Alosa sapidissima), and 1 golden shiner (Notemigonus crysoleucas). Upstream passage of gizzard shad was marginally correlated (P = 0.06) with stage height of a nearby stream. These results illustrate that fish passage should be considered not only for anadromous fishes but also riverine species that undertake a spring spawning migration or that make upstream movements for feeding or other life cycle requirements. Prefabricated fishways are simple to install and could restore access to the considerable habitat upstream of low-head dams.

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