The Southeast Aquatic Connectivity Assessment Project (SEACAP) is now just over half way through its two year term and it’s been a busy first year!  We’ve gone from ideas and plans all the way through to a first set of draft results.  Over the last year, the TNC-SARP team has put a lot of effort into compiling, processing, and reviewing data.  The dam data, in particular, absorbed many hours of labor merging disparate datasets, modeling dam locations which are not present in existing databases, aligning the data with the river network (NHDPlus), and reviewing it all for quality control. 

This effort has begun to bear fruit.  In January, the SEACAP  Workgroup met in-person at the Southern Division meeting of the American Fisheries Society.  The centerpiece of this meeting was the review and assessment of a set of draft results that is a prioritization of dams in the study area based on their potential to benefit to diadromous fish if a passage project were implemented.  To be clear, these results are very much a first draft – a “strawman” meant to be hacked apart by those reviewing it, and there are some significant and data gaps that need to be addressed in the coming months.  But that said, there was a general consensus that the results depicted in the draft product are in-line with people’s real-world priorities on the ground.  More often than not the dams that people have existing projects at or are interested in doing a project at were in the upper tiers of the draft results. 

This general consensus puts us in a good position for the remainder of the project.  It will allow us to focus efforts on further refining our input data, develop another scenario (e.g. prioritize dams based on their potential benefit to resident fish if removed/bypassed), and develop and launch a web-map based custom prioritization tool that will allow users to develop prioritization scenarios specific to a given geography or for a given species.

If you are interested in learning more about this project, or would like to get involved by reviewing results or suggesting or contributing data, contact Erik Martin at emartin@tnc.org.