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Biologists Complete First Guadalupe Bass Stocking on South Llano River
Coalition to protect water quality for people and wildlife along entire watershed
AUSTIN, Texas – Texas Parks and Wildlife Department inland fisheries biologists today completed the first stocking of Guadalupe bass in the South Llano River. The release of fish here marks a new chapter in a decades-long effort to save the state fish of Texas. It’s also the first, prototype effort of a new watershed scale approach to water resource conservation in Texas.
Since 1992, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has been stocking Guadalupe bass in the Guadalupe River system, trying to restore a balance that was upset when native Guadalupes started interbreeding with imported smallmouth bass. Interbreeding creates a hybridization problem where the native fish lose their genetic identity. In the South Llano, biologists have a chance to make a big difference.
“When we started in the Guadalupe River system almost 20 years ago, Guadalupe Bass hybridization there was already at 30 percent and worsening,” said Gary Garrett, PhD, TPWD inland fisheries biologist and a leader of the agency’s new watershed program. “But in the South Llano, samples show only 3 percent hybridization. We’re starting this one early, and that’s why we have such a great chance to nip the problem in the bud.”
Today was the last of four fish releases done in recent weeks, totaling about 175,000 Guadalupe bass fingerlings going into the South Llano River this year. These are juvenile fish about 1.5 to 2 inches long.
But the restoration effort is broader. Led by TPWD, a diverse coalition is also planning to fight erosion and protect river water quality through tactics like riverbank stabilization with native plants, mimicking natural conditions by creating log complexes and tree root wads, and installing boulder complexes. An important goal is to re-do poorly designed road crossings that alter the riverscape and are often barriers to fish passage.
The restoration coalition will empower landowners by assembling and communicating Best Management Practices showcasing river protection tactics. The TPWD Landowner Incentive Program is offering grants to landowners to manage not only the river corridor but also uplands that drain into the river and affect water quality. A key partner is the South Llano Watershed Alliance, composed of riverside landowners and other stakeholders.
TPWD is even working with locals and applying for grants to create a new Texas Paddling Trail for kayakers and canoeists along the South Llano.
To help pay for all this, the agency has assembled close to $1.4 million in funding from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, in-kind contributions from landowners, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Fish Passage Program, Texas State University, Texas Tech University at Junction, a federal State Wildlife Grant, a federal Sport Fish Restoration Grant, Anheuser-Busch, and the Southeast Aquatic Resources Partnership.
The new South Llano River project fits under the National Fish Habitat Action Plan, an effort to address an unseen crisis for fish nationwide: loss and degradation of their watery homes. It’s also part of the Southeast Aquatic Resources Partnership, a multi-state regional collaboration whose work includes restoring native black bass like the Guadalupe bass across the southeastern U.S.A.
Natural history background information about the Guadalupe bass is in a .pdf brochure available on the TPWD website called “Guadalupe Bass: the State Fish of Texas.”
NEWS PHOTOS showing the first Guadalupe bass stocking on the South Llano River are available as downloadable high resolution .jpg files in the news images area of the TPWD website. The news images group South Llano River Guadalupe Bass Stocking also contains a map showing the entire project area involving multiple Central Texas rivers.
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