The Allegheny Reservoir in the Southern Tier is 24 miles long, covers over 20,000 acres, and provides some of the best fishing in New York. That despite the fact that it faces an annual reduction in water level that is damaging to the life within. Especially in the Seneca Nation portion of the reservoir, that drawdown of water leaves vast areas that were once submerged completely exposed to the harsh effect of the elements.
Shane Titus is Fisheries Manager for Seneca Nation Fish & Wildlife." That takes a toll on all of that habitat, your stumps and trees and shrubs and things that would normally be covered by water are protected from those type of events, but when they're exposed it even accelerates the amount of erosion and decay, and we almost literally have none left within the reservoir system."
That's where the Seneca Nation Fish And Wildlife Department comes in. They're working to create habitat where there is none, and they use a couple of different techniques. The natural approach involves the use of used Christmas trees donated by community members, the city of Salamanca and local businesses.Titus explains. " We bring them down here to the reservoir, and we deploy them out here in these shallow bay areas, which we call nursery areas where the young of the year and small fry from this year's hatch will inhabit and that provides food and shelter for those fish."
Titus says they also add artificial habitat made from recycled material ." It's made of vinyl siding from the housing industry, cut into thin strips and put into some Quikrete, and it creates a permanent habitat which won't erode , and it will last at least my lifetime."
They're not only creating the habitat, they're adding the wildlife itself. Every year the department raises and stocks Walleye , a popular sportfish that Titus says has great importance to the Nation." Walleye is really significant to the tribe, culturally and in heritage. Even to this day we have a number of members in the tribe that rely on the Spring Walleye run for sustenance. We feed our elders and community members as well. We're a tight knit community and we depend on the Walleye."
All of this work is being done from a completely self sustaining facility that epitomizes the term " green ". " All of our electric is supplied by solar panels which are on the roof of our building , and that supplies every bit of electricity that we need in the hatchery. All of our water comes from a hillside that sits above the hatchery that I use within the hatchery , and that's all gravity fed down into the buildings, so we don't have to run pumps to pump water or anything of that nature, and that's a natural spring that comes right out from underneath the ground."
This fine work is a shining example of what can happen when Man works with Nature instead of against her." Mother Nature takes care of herself at times, it almost feels she's at the end of her rope though," Says Titus " It's why we're doing what we can do to get things back to the way things need to be, to get things as best they can possibly be for the environment, for the community, for the fish and wildlife, and for the entire region."
To learn more about the great work being done by the SNI Fish & Wildlife Department visit their website : http://www.senecaconservation.com/senecaconservation.com/Home.html