MONROE COUNTY, N.Y. (WROC) — In a recent discovery by New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), lake sturgeon fish were found reproducing in the Genesee River for the first time in 50 years — a significant milestone and direct result of the river’s restoration efforts.

Lake sturgeon hold one of the largest and longest-living species population in the Great Lakes. As a result of local human activities throughout the last 30 years, the lower section of the Genesee River ecosystem was degraded, making the threat of the species’ extinction greater.

In 2003, DEC began stocking the lower side of river with lake sturgeon as part of its effort to revive the fish population. Today, the first female lake sturgeon was recorded respawning for the first time since the 1970s.

“Working with our partners, DEC’s investments and efforts to stock and clean up the Genesee watershed have paid off for lake sturgeon in the Genesee River,” DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos wrote in a statement“This sturgeon thrived in the Genesee as a stocked juvenile and has finally reached maturity to hopefully produce another generation. We appreciate the work of all our federal partners, Monroe County, Seneca Park Zoo, New York Sea Grant and others improving the Genesee River ecosystem and increasing public awareness of the river’s ongoing restoration.”

The discovery of the reproducing species further signifies the improvements made to Genesee River’s ecosystem and points to an upward trajectory of the area’s future animal preservation.