Cape Fear shiner: A fish like no other
The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, along with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, has scheduled an open house on Jan. 10 to answer questions about the Cape Fear Shiner Augmentation Project in the Rocky River.
The meeting, which is a “drop-in event” from 6:30-8:30 p.m., will be held at the Western Chatham Senior Center in the Holly Brooks Banquet Room. The Senior Center is located at 112 Village Lake Road in Siler City, Chatham County.
The Cape Fear Shiner Augmentation Project is a joint effort between the Commission and the Service to help bolster populations of the Cape Fear shiner, a federally endangered minnow, in the Rocky River. Biologists plan to release shiners into the Rocky River near Pittsboro-Goldston Road in Chatham County this spring. This section of river has been protected for this species since it was listed in 1987, so the release of more shiners will not result in changes to existing regulations or creation of new regulations regarding land or water use.
While the meeting is targeted to landowners who live near or along the Rocky River in Chatham County, it is open to anyone who has questions about the augmentation project, said Brena Jones, an aquatic biologist with the Commission.
“We want to meet with landowners, or really anyone, who has an interest in the project to answer any questions they might have about what we’re doing and why we’re doing it,” Jones said. “We thought that an informal meeting where they can drop in would be the best way to get information to everyone in a relaxed atmosphere.”
Biologists will have exhibits to show where the augmentation will take place and multiple staff will be present to answer questions.
About the Cape Fear Shiner
The Cape Fear shiner is found nowhere else in the world except the upper Cape Fear River basin in North Carolina. Only three populations are known to exist from the mainstem reaches and tributaries of the Deep/Rocky, the Haw and the Cape Fear rivers.
At one time, Cape Fear shiners were found in relative abundance in the Rocky River but dams that blocked their movements and fragmented their populations, combined with pollution from now-defunct textile mills, shrunk their habitat , as well as their numbers, to the point that the fish was listed in 1987 as federally endangered. The designation meant there was a good chance for extinction of Cape Fear shiners if immediate measures were not taken to improve the habitat. In the 25 years since that designation, the water quality has improved tremendously and biologists believe shiners will do well once they are released in this multi-year effort.