Something exciting is happening in the Flint River this weekend. On Saturday, Sept. 21 at the Mott Park Recreational Area from 1-3pm, the reintroduction of juvenile Lake Sturgeon into the Flint River will take place. Participants may have the opportunity to help with the release, according to a statement released by the Flint River Watershed Coalition.
The event is part of the Saginaw Bay Watershed Lake Sturgeon Restoration, an effort led by the DNR and partners to re-establish lake sturgeon in the Saginaw Watershed through the Cass, Shiawassee, Tittabawassee and Flint rivers. The lake sturgeon were reared at the USFWS National Fish Hatchery in Genoa, WI, and are about 5-7 inches in length. The adult source population for the lake sturgeon were collected near Port Huron.
This event will feature the release of 125 hatchery-reared lake sturgeon into the Flint River. Presentations will be made by Congressman Kildee’s District Director, City of Flint Mayor Dr. Karen Weaver, representatives from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and local partners. There also will be kid-friendly learning activities, including an invasive sea lamprey display.
The release will take place at the new Paddlers’ Landing at the Mott Park Recreation Area, with event parking available off of Sunset Drive near Ballenger Highway. It will also serve as the official ribbon cutting for Paddlers’ Landing, a crowd-funded launch to improve access to the Flint River.
Lake sturgeon are a unique Great Lakes species. They can grow up to 7 feet long and can weigh up to 300 pounds. The slow-maturing fish do not begin reproducing until they are 15-20 years old. Once abundant in many Michigan lakes and rivers, lake sturgeon were nearly eradicated due to overfishing and habitat loss, particularly the destruction of rocky reefs in rivers that sturgeon and other native fish species use for spawning.
Lake sturgeon are now considered threatened or endangered in seven of the eight Great Lakes states. In recent years, many partnerships and projects have launched around Michigan to restore sturgeon habitat, reintroduce sturgeon into their native ranges, and raise awareness and appreciation for this iconic species.
“The Flint River supports a diverse array of fish species that flourish along its 142-mile course,” says Rebecca Fedewa, Executive Director of the Flint River Watershed Coalition in the press statement. “Reintroducing lake sturgeon to our watershed’s fishery ensures future generations’ opportunity to interact with a species that’s persisted since the time of the dinosaurs, which is amazing!”
For more information about the lake sturgeon restoration efforts and additional partners visit: www.saginawbaysturgeon.org.