Sturgeonfest 2017 Set for Sept. 23
September 6, 2017 – Thousands of “living fossils” will be released into the French Broad River as part of the Tennessee Clean Water Network’s 2017 Sturgeonfest presented by TVA.
The 2017 Sturgeonfest will be held from 11 AM – 1 PM on Saturday, September 23, 2017, at the Seven Islands State Birding Park, located in east Knox County.
“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service brings more than 2,000 young sturgeons to the banks of the French Broad River to be released during Sturgeonfest,” said Kimberly Pettigrew, TCWN’s Community Health Programs Director. “Sturgeons are a member of a family of fish that have roamed Tennessee waterways for millions of years.”
“TCWN, TVA, TWRA and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have been working for years to reintroduce the sturgeon to the Upper Tennessee River after years of overfishing and habitat destruction significantly reduced their numbers in the river. At Sturgeonfest, visitors will be able to hold a young sturgeon in their hands and released the fish into the river. It is like touching a living dinosaur,” Pettigrew added.
Pettigrew said that the event is free to the public and that there is plenty of free parking at Seven Islands State Birding Park. “To better enjoy Sturgeonfest, I suggest wearing sturdy shoes, bring a picnic lunch, camp chairs and hand sanitizer. TCWN will also be selling a limited-edition Sturgeonfest t-shirts, so bring some cash as well.” Pettigrew added.
Pettigrew thanked TVA for being the main sponsor of Sturgeonfest this year. “TVA is a valuable member of the partnership working to increase the number of sturgeons swimming in our rivers and lakes,” Pettigrew said.
Sturgeons are on the Tennessee list of endangered species as complied by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA). Once common in Tennessee rivers and lakes, TWRA estimated that the fish was reduced to one percent of its original population due to overfishing and habitat destruction.
TWRA and its partners started a restoration program in 1998 with the goal of establishing a self-sustaining sturgeon population in the Upper Tennessee and Cumberland rivers. More than 120,000 sturgeons have been released in Tennessee and about 2,000 more baby lake sturgeons will be released on September 23, 2017, at Sturgeonfest.
In case of inclement weather on September 23, please check the TCWN website at www.tcwn.org for updates on the event.