The Yadkin lakes are essential habitat for hundreds of species of mammals, birds, fish and plants, including some rare plant and animal specials such as the Northern Pinesnake, Red-cockaded Woodpecker, Loggerhead Shrike, Mole Salamander, Four-toed Salamander, Coachwhip and Pigmy Rattlesnake.
Alcoa-Yadkin’s man-made reservoirs enhance the bird population in the region by providing a wider array of habitat and a broader and more stable food source. The reservoirs create areas of wetlands that provide breeding habitat for insects, non-game wildlife, aquatic plants and fish. These provide abundant food sources for the more than 115 species of song birds, raptors, game birds, wading birds and waterfowl that have been documented on the lakes.
Since returning to the region in the mid-1990s, Bald Eagles are thriving at the Yadkin lakes. In recent years, more than five nesting pairs of Bald Eagles have been documented at the Yadkin lakes. Eagles are just one of several species of raptors found on the lakes. Others include Red-tailed Hawks, Red shouldered Hawks, Barred Owls and Great Horned Owls. Read more.
The large area of surface water in the lakes attracts waterfowl that might not normally frequent a riverine system. Wood ducks, Mallards, Teal, and the occasional loon, among other species, can be found on the lakes. Shorebirds such as Great Blue Herons and Green Herons frequent the lakes and can often be seen sitting on docks and tree limbs along the shore. Egrets can be seen wading in wetland areas and feeding in nearby fields.
Songbirds, game birds and raptors frequent the riparian areas around the lakes. Kingfishers, killdeer, pileated woodpeckers, turkey, quail are among the more common species.
More than 20 species of mammals frequent the areas around the lakes. Large mammals, such as White Tailed Deer and Bobcat roam the woodlands and fields surrounding the lakes. Small mammals such as gray squirrel, chipmunks, red and grey fox can also be spotted with some regularity.
The Yadkin lakes support a strong warm water fishery. In recent studies, the lakes support a combined total of 44 species and three hybrids. Wetlands, mainly in the upper reaches of High Rock Lake, and natural shoreline areas, such as in Narrows reservoir, provide excellent breeding habitat for numerous species including Bream, Crappie, Striped and White bass, Blue Catfish, and others.
Small populations of several rare fish species have been documented within the Yadkin Project. The Carolina Redhorse, a federal species of concern, has been noted, as well as the Carolina Darter and the Robust Redhorse.
Research is inconclusive on the historical migration of anadromous fish such as Blueback Herring and American Shad. Some historical data indicates that the American Eel and the Blueback Herring probably migrated inland beyond the project prior to the construction of the dams on the river.
Alcoa-Yadkin, in conjunction with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission and the U.S. Forest Service, has developed several programs to enhance the lake fishery, including the cutting and cabling of large trees along the shoreline to provide cover for fish.
Notice: A fish advisory for catfish and largemouth bass in Badin Lake was issued in February 2009. Click here for more information.
Plant life in and around the project provides food and cover for wildlife and scenic enjoyment for people using the lakes. Currently more than 59 percent of the shoreline of the lakes is forested and four percent is used for agricultural purposes. A portion of the Uwharrie National Forest also borders the Narrows and Falls reservoirs. Approximately 10 miles of the 115 miles of shoreline of the Narrows reservoir is national forest land.
Several important plant species exist along the lakes’ shoreline. Plants such as Water Willow and Button Bush provide excellent cover for breeding fish and help control shoreline erosion.
More than 50 plant species within the project area are listed as rare, threatened or endangered at the state or federal level. Among them are the Schweinitz’s Sunflower, Yadkin River Goldenrod, Little Sneezeweed, Carolina Thistle, Piedmont Indigo Bush, Thick Pod White Wild Indigo, and Indian Physic.
Alcoa-Yadkin, in cooperation with state and federal agencies has identified and mapped habitat for these plants and has established conservation plans for their protection.
Wetlands are import to the overall health of the region because they provide breeding habitat for aquatic life and food and nesting areas for other wildlife. Wetland soils and vegetation also help remove impurities from the water, reduce sediment and nutrient loads, and bind soil to help prevent erosion. Wetlands also provide flood protection.
More than 1,000 acres of wetlands have been identified in the upper reaches of High Rock Lake. Smaller shoreline wetlands occur throughout the Yadkin Project in coves and along shallow shoreline areas. Plants common in wetland areas include Button Bush, Alder, Water Willow, Rush, Sedge, Cattails, and Watermilfoil.
Alcoa’s Shoreline Management Plan sets forth a number of regulations developed to protect wetland areas and protect shoreline plant life.