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 represents one of the largest and longest-living species populations 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, intensifying the threat of extinction for the species.

In 2003, DEC began stocking the lower side of the river with lake sturgeon as part of its effort to revive the fish population. And their efforts paid off in late May when a 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.”

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.