Little Falls Fishway and American Shad Restoration
Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin
Opening the Passage
Several agencies, including ICPRB, signed a cooperative agreement in 1995 to reestablish migratory and anadromous fish access to their historic spawning habitat upstream of Little Falls Dam on the Potomac River. The resulting “fishway” was completed in January 2000.
Potomac River American Shad Restoration Project
Sometimes a population needs a little help coming back. American shad stocks were depressed in the Potomac River despite significant improvements in water quality and a river harvest moratorium in effect since 1982. ICPRB spearheaded a collaborative effort to stock American shad that began in 1995. The effort was designed to imprint shad to the historic Potomac spawning and nursery waters and help stocks reestablish while the fishway was being built. Stocking continued after the fishway opened, significantly jump-starting the successful restoration of this important migratory species in the Potomac River.
Each spring as adult shad returned from the ocean to the Potomac River, ICPRB collected and fertilized shad roe to be raised in fish hatcheries and classrooms. Fingerlings were then released in their historic spawning and nursery areas in the Potomac and year class survival was monitored in the juvenile seine surveys performed by Maryland Department of Natural Resources each summer. Through this stocking effort, shad populations recovered very quickly in the Potomac River. They recovered so well that since 2002, Potomac shad has been a major egg source for Maryland’s streams being restored with shad, the Rappahannock River in Virginia, the Susquehanna River in Maryland and Pennsylvania, and some of Delaware’s rivers. The Potomac portion of the restoration project was wrapped up in 2014.
Reports, Fact Sheets, and Videos
- The Return of American Shad to the Potomac River: 20 Years of Restoration (ICPRB Report 16-5)
- Potomac River American Shad Status Report (2016) as presented to the Teachers
- Potomac River American Shad Status Report (2016) as presented to the National Capitol Chapter of Trout Unlimited (large file). This is similar to the Teachers file above, but with additional information on Potomac’s environmental history.
- An Historical Compilation about American Shad and the Potomac River (2012)
- African American Watermen Heritage on the Potomac River (2010)
- Burk, S. 2005. Let the River Run Silver Again! How One School Helped Return the American Shad to the Potomac River
- American Shad Restoration Project Fact Sheet
- Video: American Shad Planking with ICPRB
- Potomac River American Shad Monitoring Survey, 2014 Summary Report (ICPRB Report 14-7)
- The ICPRB 2013 American Shad Monitoring Survey (ICPRB Report 13-11)
- The Potomac River 2012 American Shad Monitoring Surveys (ICPRB Report 12-8)
- The Potomac River 2011 American Shad Monitoring Surveys (ICPRB Report 11-6)
- Virginia Schools American Shad Project 2007 Report (ICPRB Report 07-9)
- The Potomac River American Shad Restoration Project 2004 Summary Report (ICPRB Report 05-2)
- The Potomac River American Shad Restoration Project 2003 Summary Report (ICPRB Report 03-5)
- American Shad Restoration, Potomac River: Year 2001 Stocking Effort, Assistance to Schools-in Schools and Monitoring (ICPRB Report 02-1)
- American Shad Restoration, Potomac River: Year 2000 Stocking Effort Assistance to Schools-In Schools Monitoring (ICPRB Report 01-1)
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