Lake Sturgeon Restoration Activities:
Lake Sturgeon Upstream and Downstream Passage Initiative
on the Menominee River

The Fish and Wildlife Services (FWS) Green Bay, Wisconsin Ecological Services (ES) Field Office is involved in an upstream and downstream fish passage initiative for lake sturgeon on the Menominee River, a border river between Wisconsin and Upper Michigan. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Michigan DNR, first completed the Menominee River Fisheries Plan in 1992. Subsequently, the Wisconsin DNR, Michigan DNR, and FWS (resource agencies) began more detailed planning on a strategy to pass lake sturgeon from the lower Menominee River (but not from Green Bay) upstream around three hydroelectric (hydro) dams (Grand Rapids, White Rapids, and Chalk Hill Hydro Projects) and also to provide safe downstream passage around the projects hydro turbines. If lake sturgeon can be passed around these hydro projects, the fish will have upstream and downstream access to approximately 70 miles of riverine habitat that would be used for spawning, foraging and wintering activities. Presently, there is no known lake sturgeon population in the Menominee River upstream from the Chalk Hill Hydro Project. Historic spawning habitat at Pemene Falls and Quiver Falls would once again be available to lake sturgeon when fish passage facilities are constructed. Expanding the distribution of the Menominee River lake sturgeon population via fishways should help considerably (along with other lake sturgeon restoration efforts ongoing in the nation) to preclude the FWS from having to formally list this species on the federal threatened and endangered species list. Because of the broad interest in lake sturgeon passage in North American, several other partners have joined with the resource agencies to add funding and expertise to the fish passage initiative. The other partners include U.S. Geological Survey- Biological Resources Division (Conte Anadromous Fish Research Center), Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin, and Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

Substantial progress in the fishway initiative has been made to date. Lake sturgeon swimming speed/swimming performance tests have been completed to aid in fishway design. The resource agencies conducted fish telemetry studies on lake sturgeon that congregate below the White Rapids Dam to identify areas in the river that upstream migrant prespawning fish select. This information is critical in locating the fishway entrance structure. More telemetry work is planned at the White Rapids Dam in the spring of 1999 to determine if manipulation of attraction water flow can attract fish to a suitable fishway site. Work continues at the Conte Anadromous Fish Research Center on constructing a prototype fishway to observe lake sturgeon swimming response to alternative fishway baffle designs and alternative entrance structures.

For more information on this fishway initiative, please contact Jim Fossum at the Green Bay ES Field Office.


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