Re: NANFA-- Natives should get TV exposure

Christopher Scharpf (
Thu, 14 Sep 2000 13:39:01 -0400

Luke said:

>is the Kansas River right here in my home state. 500 years ago it would
>have generally been a brown, muddy mess containing specific species
>groups. Now, thanks to Federal resevoirs controlling the flow, it is
>generally a "reasonably" clear stream, with a totally different group of
>species inhabiting it.

So you're saying that the Kansas River is better off ecologically because its
natural turbidity has been reduced by dams (which trap sediments and hold them
in the reservoir) and because "a totally different group of species" (which I
presume includes introduced gamefishes) inhabit it?

By that logic, the Colorado River is better off today than when it was a raging,
turbid "mess" filled with "trash" fish such as humpback chub and razorback

> But, my point is that not every stream in N.A. was at one
>point "clean and clear" running.

Streams may not have been clear, but they were clean (i.e., free from
contaminants which harm wildlife and humans).

>Many streams where always dirty in some
>way and the water not fit for drinking. It's a myth that they were...

Natural turbidity doesn't mean the water isn't potable. Simply let the sediments
settle for a few hours and then drink up!

The myth, as you describe it here, is simply the common misconception that clear
water is axiomatically better water. Healthy water is often clouded with life
(algae, diatoms, etc.). The "more natural looking" water of clear mountain
streams (so common in beer commericals) is virtually lifeless.

According to FISHES IN KANSAS, the clarity of streams just below impoundments is
usually offset a few miles downstream due to the erosion of streambanks.
Flood-protected streams discharge all of their annual flow through the channel,
which causes even more streambank erosion. Eroding streambanks also stabilize
the flow bottom, reducing the number of pools and reducing fish habitat. The
diversity of the fish fauna is thereby reduced.

Of course, dams have produced many lakes in virtually lakeless Kansas, which is
good for the fish that can live in them, and too bad for the ones that cannot.

Chris Scharpf

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