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US Fish & Wildlife Service FieldNotes

Rock Island Field Office Hosts Topeka Shiner Field Day in Iowa

Region 3, September 27, 2013
Attendees of the field day are shown juvenile Topeka shiners that were collected out of a restored oxbow.
Attendees of the field day are shown juvenile Topeka shiners that were collected out of a restored oxbow. - Photo Credit: n/a
Rock Island Field Office Biologists Aleshia Kenney and Kraig McPeek pull a seine through a restored oxbow as part of a demonstration at the field day.
Rock Island Field Office Biologists Aleshia Kenney and Kraig McPeek pull a seine through a restored oxbow as part of a demonstration at the field day. - Photo Credit: n/a

On September 5 and 6, 2013 staff from the Rock Island Field Office hosted a Topeka shiner field day for Regional Office staff and our local conservation partners. For the past 11 years, the Field Office has been performing oxbow restorations for the Topeka shiner in northwest Iowa. To date, 55 oxbows have been restored along tributaries to the North Raccoon River. Much success has come from these restorations as many of the restored oxbows now support Topeka shiners, and reproduction of Topeka shiners has been documented in several restored oxbows. The field day was a celebration of the success and benefits of these restorations.

The event was well attended by representatives from the Midwest Regional Office of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Iowa Private Lands Office, Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Iowa Soybean Association, U.S. Department of Agriculture-Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Missouri Department of Conservation. On the first day of the event, attendees were given a tour of the Cedar Creek watershed where there are 20 restored oxbows in a 9-mile stretch of stream. Stops were made at a few of the restored oxbows where the landowners and partners spoke about their involvement in the restorations and why the restorations are so important. Rock Island Field Office staff seined a couple of the oxbows and were able to show the attendees several hundred juvenile Topeka shiners that were produced in the restored oxbows, as well as many other species of fish, tadpoles, insects, and crayfish that now call those oxbows home. Attendees were also shown a site that was unrestored, but was soon going to be restored, and placed into a permanent conservation easement through U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wetland Reserve Program.

The second day of the event focused on restorations within the West Buttrick Creek Watershed. This watershed has 11 restorations within a six-mile stretch of stream. Stops were made at the site of the first oxbow restorations performed in Iowa in 2002. Attendees were able to see the persistence of the restorations over the course of 11 years. Attendees were also shown an instream plunge pool that was created in 2002 to benefit Topeka shiners before their preference for off-channel areas was known. Field Office staff seined another oxbow and it too contained several hundred juvenile Topeka shiners! This was very interesting to demonstrate given that the adjacent stream was almost completely dry due to back to back drought years in that portion of Iowa.

Overall, the field day was a great success. Attendees were able to see what makes these restorations work, the partnerships that are needed to carry out such a large feat, and, as demonstrated by the hundreds of juvenile Topeka shiners produced in the few restored oxbows that were sampled, the fact that the restorations are indeed working.

Contact Info: Aleshia Kenney, 309-757-5800 ext. 218, aleshia_kenney@fws.gov