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Trout Day Celebration a Fitting Milestone for Stream Restoration
Midwest Region, June 7, 2014
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The trout are quick to respond to the work.  This 10 inch brook trout taken from a restored section of stream is beginning to show his fall spawning colors.  Trout Unlimited reports that streams can see as high as a 1500% icrease in trout population following restoration.
The trout are quick to respond to the work. This 10 inch brook trout taken from a restored section of stream is beginning to show his fall spawning colors. Trout Unlimited reports that streams can see as high as a 1500% icrease in trout population following restoration. - Photo Credit: William Kiser/USFWS
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources employee Rob Herman along the water’s edge pre-restoration.  Note that some of the field had washed away after corn harvest.  Also note the corn residue that has fallen down near the water’s edge.
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources employee Rob Herman along the water’s edge pre-restoration. Note that some of the field had washed away after corn harvest. Also note the corn residue that has fallen down near the water’s edge. - Photo Credit: William Kiser/USFWS
Rob Herman near the same location after completion of the work.  Rob is an integral part of these projects.  Note that the banks have been sloped back and are vegetated to provide buffer between the stream and adjacent agricultural fields.
Rob Herman near the same location after completion of the work. Rob is an integral part of these projects. Note that the banks have been sloped back and are vegetated to provide buffer between the stream and adjacent agricultural fields. - Photo Credit: William Kiser/USFWS
Poppy Kiser fishing for brook trout during the Trout Day Celebration on Danuser Creek.
Poppy Kiser fishing for brook trout during the Trout Day Celebration on Danuser Creek. - Photo Credit: William Kiser/USFWS

Two years ago, nobody would have thought to have a trout celebration on a stretch of Danuser Creek in rural southwest Wisconsin’s Buffalo County. However, after a stream restoration project in summer 2013, the Waumandee Rod & Gun Club, Fountain City Rod & Gun Club, Trout Unlimited and the Alma Rod & Gun Club sponsored Trout Day Celebration on June 7, 2014. This event featured kid’s assisted fishing, educational demonstrations and a fish survey of the stream.

Prior to the 2013 restoration project, this 4000 foot section of Danuser Creek, like many other streams in the Driftless Area of Wisconsin, was heavily degraded as a result of intensive agricultural practices within the last century. The stream channel had become wide and shallow compared to historical conditions. Banks were cut nearly vertical and massive amounts of sediment continuously sloughed into the stream thus impairing water quality. Suitability for native brook trout was greatly reduced as the quality of in-stream habitat, water temperature and oxygenation diminished.

In 2012, the two families of landowners along this stretch teamed up with Natural Resources Conservation Service, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, local rod & gun clubs and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Partners for Fish and Wildlife program to restore this section of Danuser Creek. In the summer of 2013, restoration work consisting of sloping back and stabilizing banks, restoring natural channel width, installing in-stream fish habitat structures and planting native grassland buffers was completed. Additionally, the landowners donated public fishing easements which also serve to push the adjacent row-crop agriculture back from the water’s edge and create a riparian corridor. As a result, the Natural Resources Conservation Service estimates that this project will reduce sedimentation by 450 tons per year.

Impairment of Driftless Area streams is primarily driven by excessive sediment and nutrient loading from stream banks and adjacent agricultural fields. The consequences are far reaching as the Driftless Area is a significant contributor to the excessive sedimentation of the Mississippi River system and nutrient loading that causes the Gulf of Mexico “dead zone.” According to the Wisconsin DNR, the watershed planning region where Danuser Creek resides leads all regions within the Wisconsin’s Driftless Area in miles of impaired streams as specified by Section 303 (d) of the Clean Water Act.

Fortunately, restoration projects such as the one on Danuser Creek are a common occurrence throughout the Driftless Area. Partnerships between landowners, non-governmental organizations and governmental entities are essential due to the expense and complexity of these projects. Since 2013, the Partners for Fish and Wildlife program has worked with many others to restore over 12,000 linear feet of coldwater streams in Buffalo and Trempealeau Counties. Many other projects have been completed throughout the Driftless Area in recent decades. As a result, the Driftless Area is home to superb trout fishing that, according to Trout Unlimited, contributes over $1.1 billion to local economies annually.

Despite heavy rains the morning of the event, the atmosphere at the Trout Celebration Day on Danuser Creek was one of optimism. High water made the fishing difficult, but fish were caught and the bank stabilization from the restoration project was on full display. At the end of the day over 30 fishing rods were raffled to the kids. This project is an example of how various individuals and organizations can partner together to surmount challenges and produce positive results. The challenges of sediment and nutrient loading in the Mississippi watershed are immense. While the restoration project on Danuser Creek may seem insignificant compared to the continental implications of the Mississippi basin, this project is one of many that take place within the Driftless Area every year. The continuing recovery of Driftless Area coldwater streams serves as an example of how partnerships accomplishing comparatively small achievements can aggregate into big changes across the landscape.

For more information on the Partners for Fish and Wildlife program, visit us online at Upper Mississippi National Wildlife and Fish Refuge PFW or contact Bill Kiser at 608-779-2388 or William_Kiser@fws.gov.

To learn more about the Partners for Fish and Wildlife program regionwide, visit: http://www.fws.gov/midwest/partners/getinvolved.html


Contact Info: William Kiser, 608-779-2388, William_Kiser@fws.gov



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