MADISON - More than 400 projects improving trout habitat on more than 100 miles of streams are now easier for inland anglers to find and fish.
The project locations and details have been added to the Department of Natural Resources' online T.R.O.U.T. tool, giving anglers a ready resource to help guide them to stream segments where fish populations and angler access are benefiting from the projects, says Joanna Griffin, Department of Natural Resources trout team coordinator.
"These projects occur on trout streams all over the state in inland brook trout and brown trout streams and Lake Superior tributaries," she says. "They would not have been possible without the help and support from our partners."
Griffin says the projects were conducted from 2011 through 2016 and range from brush removal and access to maintenance and larger in-stream habitat improvements. Much of the work is funded through trout stamp revenues. Anglers fishing inland waters for trout are required to buy a $10 inland trout stamp and the resulting revenues are used to support trout habitat improvement and habitat maintenance projects, and trout population surveys.
Increasingly, fishing clubs, other conservation groups and federal, tribal and local entities are playing a bigger role in providing funding and labor. These examples illustrate the importance of these partnerships for fish and anglers, Griffin says:
DNR staff and multiple partners teamed up in 2015-6 to improve fishing access and wild brown and brook trout populations on the Upper Kinnickinnic River. Their efforts resulted in 1,572 feet of riprap along two banks, nine lunker covers installed, one riffle, one plunge pool, 17 root wads installed, and two cattle crossings upgraded.
Trout stamp revenues and fisheries land funds covered about one-third of the cost. Other partners contributing funds included the St. Croix Conservation Fund, Fairmount Santrol, Friends of Wisconsin Trout Unlimited, Patagonia, Embrace A Stream, Carpicide Tournament, and Kiap-TU-Wish chapter of Trout Unlimited. Partners contributed more than 1,200 volunteer hours cutting and burning trees, removing fence, building lunkers and seeding and mulching. Surveys after project completion showed the fish numbers more than doubled in the section with habitat work.
Phase II of the Fall Creek trout habitat improvement project was completed downstream of County Highway T in Pepin County in fall 2017, stabilizing more than 1,700 feet of bank and adding trout habitat including root wads, plunge pools, boulder clusters and riffles. Financial support for this project was provided by Pepin County, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Rock Falls Sportsman's Club, Durand Sportsman's Club, Clear Waters Chapter of Trout Unlimited and Xcel Energy. Fisheries biologists expect a similar boost in trout populations to what habitat improvement work immediately upstream yielded: recent survey data found a five-fold increase in brook trout over 8 inches long.
A stretch of Buckhorn Creek in Sawyer County that was the bed of an old beaver pond has been transformed, thanks to the efforts of DNR staff, the Wild River Chapter of Trout Unlimited and the Lac Courte Oreilles Youth Conservation Corps. The bed of the beaver dam was removed, brush bundles were used to re-channelize the stream and scour out the 6-10 inches of muck that had been covering the old stream bed. Now, native brook trout are moving back into the area and are successfully spawning.
Such partnerships and anglers' purchase of trout stamps have paid off over the years. Habitat improvements have played an important role in increasing angler opportunities and the mileage of Class 1 trout streams from 3,536 miles in 1980 to more than 5,000 today.
To access the online tool, search the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for keyword "trout."
SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR