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Erne River Restoration Project

It will come as no surprise to regular readers of this web site that it has attempted to garner support for a campaign urging restoration of the historic Assaroe Falls on the River Erne at Ballyshannon, Co. Donegal, one of the nine counties of the Province of Ulster in Ireland.

To date that campaign has not been favoured by all the authorities north and south of the border which separates the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

The River Erne rises in the Republic, flows into the North, creating two beautiful lakes in the process, Upper and Lower Loughs Erne, and returns to the Republic before emptying into its estuary at Ballyshannon. It was at that point that the Falls of Assaroe were sacrificed in the name of progress to facilitate the construction of two dams for the generation of electricity.

In addition to the loss of the Falls, tremendous damage was done to the salmon and trout fishery which once was the pride of Ireland, attracting anglers from home and abroad, and providing much needed local jobs and income.

Now comes a more realistic proposal which envisions "a Ballyshannon, Cross-Border, and EU Environmental Project to restore a free-flowing river ecosystem for migrating salmon, smolts and eels".

The quotation is from a well designed and reasoned brochure setting out the long-existing problem and its solution.

It is a project which has the support of the Federation of Irish Salmon & Sea Trout Anglers, FISSTA, and is wholeheartedly recommended to the bodies North and South who have jurisdiction over the Erne, its tributaries, and its lakes.

The brochure, which includes maps, photographs, and illustrations of similar successful projects in both Canada and the United States of America, is scheduled for release this month.

Meticulously researched over many months by Paul M. Rohleder, a geologist, the River Erne Restoration Project will see the emergence of a new tributary by extending and broadening the Sminver Stream from Ballyshannon to Lough Bracken. That lough will be fed with additional water from the reservoir created by the hydro-electric dam, and the enhanced new tributary will provide hope to save the wild salmon stock of the Erne from the ever-growing threat of extinction.

Mr. Noel Carr, Chairman of FISSTA, and a native of Donegal, has given the project his support, and in the brochure Mr. Rohleder thanks many others for their support and advice, including Paddy Donagher, Ballyshannon, compiler of the Donegal Bay Angling Guide; Ted Malone, author Irish Trout and Flies, Belfast; Michael Recalma, Big River Qualicum River Project, B.C., Canada; Mark Sageser, Eugene, Oregon, USA; Frankie McPhillips, Tempo, Co. Fermanagh; David Feely, Proprietor, Rogan of Donegal; Niall Greene, national Executive Member FISSTA; Donegal Game Anglers Federation; Friends of the Earth on the Elwha Campaign, Washington State, USA; Orri Vigfusson, Chairman, North Atlantic Salmon Fund; and this e-zine, www.vindicator.ca which helped publicise the project.

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