Conservation and preservation are passionate topics when it comes to the environment and wilderness that lies just beyond the doorstep.
The reality of what both actions work to protect was put under a microscope Thursday in eastern Floyd County as a team of about 10 people inspected Dykes Creek off Kingston Highway.
Part of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources stream survey program, studies were made concerning the overall status of the waterway that flows into the Etowah River.
Andrew Taylor, with the Georgia DNR, said that what they were seeing was a pleasant surprise. The team had found more 20 species of fish in a 300-meter section of the creek by Thursday afternoon.
“It’s very rare to have that many in a single stream,” Taylor said. “Few sites provide that much diversity.”
Some of the rarest types of fish catalogued included redeye bass, Mobile logperches and Coosa darters, which are found only in the Coosa River Basin.
The presence of both the Coosa shiner and tricolor shiner is a positive sign that the waterway is in good condition, according to Taylor, as both species prefer really clean mountain streams.
“Not many people that work with fish get to see the species that we are seeing today unless they come though this area,” he said.
Joe Cook, executive director of the Coosa River Basin Initiative, a Rome-based environmental group, said it is exciting to hear of the strong diversity found by the survey team.
“It’s what we’re known for,” Cook said. “We live in the most biodiverse river basin in North America and if we do what we can to keep the streams healthy that’s the way it will stay.”
Thursday’s effort was completed with the help of members of CRBI, the Georgia Nature Conservancy, the Georgia Environmental Protection Division, DNR Fisheries Management and the Rome-Floyd E.C.O. River Education Center.
To collect the fish, researchers use a device that emits a low wattage electrical current and temporarily stuns the fish. That allows them to be netted and collected.
After they are sorted by species and counted, they are released back into the water. “We use the info to get an idea of the health of streams across the state,” Taylor said. “This is actually one of the larger streams we’ve sampled this year.”
Other factors such as wildlife, water quality and habitat are taken into account to come up with a score that is sent to the EPD to determine what streams are impaired.
“This stream is looking very good right now,” Taylor said. “We do get a lot of sites that are impaired and don’t have a lot of fish in them but they should based on what has occurred there historically.”