Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Programs
Midwest Region

Success Stories


Cutting edge Chronic Wasting Disease research on deer herds across Illinois/Wisconsin border
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is making a major contribution to the researching chronic-wasting-disease (CWD), and implementing disease control measures across the Illinois-Wisconsin border. An ongoing Wildlife Restoration grant is providing funding for veterinary diagnostic tools and demographic analysis of deer herds. Illinois is continuing to provide some of the best efforts at containing CWD, while applying some of the best science to understand the disease and how it is transmitted between herds of deer. Dr. Nohra Mateus-Pinilla and Dr. Jan Novakofski at the University of Illinois are working with the DNR to turn the results of well-developed studies into effective management of chronic wasting disease.

Illinois leads the charge for developing early detection tools for White-Nose Syndrome across the country
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is at the cutting edge of research to understand and manage white-nose-syndrome (WNS), a disease spreading westward across bat populations. With assistance from Wildlife Restoration funds, the Illinois DNR is working alongside Dr. Nohra Mateus-Pinilla and Dr. Jan Novakofski from the University of Illinois to develop a strong, multisystem approach to early detection, monitoring, and hopefully managing WSN. Illinois DNR is taking a lead amongst wildlife management agencies to address this rapidly emerging threat to our bat populations.

Expanding long-term monitoring of fisheries resources to Ohio and Wabash Rivers in Illinois
The Illinois DNR, with the assistance of the Illinois Natural History Survey, has conducted century-long population monitoring of Illinois River and middle Mississippi River fisheries. With the assistance of Sport Fish Restoration funds, the Illinois DNR has recently expanded their monitoring efforts to the Ohio and Wabash Rivers, and to a much larger portion of the Mississippi River south of St. Louis.

More than a century of bird and habitat monitoring data in Illinois
From 2007-2009, in an unprecedented effort to monitor habitat and bird population change over time, the Illinois DNR provided the Illinois Natural History Survey a half million dollars of their State Wildlife Grant funds to conduct the third iteration of a cross state walking survey, first done in 1906-1909, and repeated in 1956-1958. The comparative study provides valuable details on changes in land cover, agricultural practices, and bird populations and behavior.


Connecting public land, improving recreation and benefiting wildlife along the Muscatatuck River in Indiana
Wildlife Restoration program funding will also help support a project designed to connect fragmented parcels of public land along the Muscatatuck River via land acquisition and easements. This project will restore and enhance riparian corridors, protect essential habitat for threatened and endangered species, open public access for recreational opportunities, preserve significant rest areas for migratory birds, especially waterfowl, and create a regionally significant conservation destination. The 25,600 acre area known as Muscatatuck Bottoms contains the largest least-fragmented complex of bottomland forest remaining in Indiana, characterized by several species of oak, hickory and sweet gum. The site provides habitat for a number of species of conservation concern, including such birds as the least bittern, yellow-crowned night heron, red-shouldered hawk and Cerulean warbler. Two state-endangered reptiles, the Kirtland's snake and copperbelly watersnake, also are found there, as is featherfoil, a state-endangered plant.

Protecting riparian wetland areas along 94 miles of the Wabash River in Indiana
Indiana DNR is also using Wildlife Restoration funds to acquire 43,000 acres located in the flood plain of the Wabash River and Sugar Creek in west central Indiana, which will benefit wildlife, public recreation and the environment. The area follows 94 river miles along the Wabash River and will increase DNR-owned riparian wetland areas by more than 64 percent. Despite losses in biodiversity, the Wabash River section around Terre Haute is home to 61 species of plants, animals, and habitats considered rare, threatened or endangered. The Sugar Creek and Wabash River are rich biological reservoirs containing many of Indiana's rarest fish, mussels, birds and plants. Bald eagles and great blue herons nest in the river corridors, and the wooded valleys are home to such rare interior forest bird species as the Cerulean warbler. Federally endangered aquatic mussels such as the clubshell, Eastern fanshell, pink mucket and white wartyback are found in Sugar Creek or the Wabash. The Canada yew, Eastern hemlock and white pine - all ice age remnants now rare in Indiana - are abundant along Sugar Creek.

Goose Pond Fish and Wildlife Area in Indiana
A video from the Indiana DNR Division of Communications highlights Goose Pond Fish & Wildlife Area near Linton, Indiana. The restored 8,900-acre wetland and grassland has become a destination for birds and bird watchers. This project is supported by the Wildlife Restoration Grant Program. It can be viewed at https://youtu.be/eBHvu7vJEWA.


Recreation Opportunities at Lost Grove Lake in eastern Iowa
Sport Fish Restoration funding is supporting the construction of a new 350 acre impoundment called Lost Grove Lake in Scott County, Iowa, which will provide recreational opportunities for citizens and visitors of eastern Iowa where few water recreation opportunities are available. Funding will support completion of boat launches, shore fishing facilities, and in-lake fish habitat in the form of rock reefs and brush piles.

Educating shooters and hunters in Iowa
Wildlife Restoration funds support hunter education related activities focused on recruitment and retention of the hunting community. The Trap Grant/Range Improvement Grant Program offers funding to schools and organizations to develop or upgrade facilities for shooting sports programs. Ranges are also made available for hunter education instruction, and to increase public access to multi-use facilities, and provide safe places for Iowa shooters and hunters to practice. Wildlife Restoration funds also support a partnership with Iowa State University and Iowa DNR to coordinate and cross promote programs like Outdoor Journey for Girls Program, Hunting and Conservation Camp for Boys, Iowa 4H conservation camps, Youth Hunter Education Challenge and National Archery in the School Program. This partnership will expand the diversity and grow participation in shooting sports programs. The Conservation Leaders for Tomorrow grant, also funded by Wildlife Restoration dollars, provides funding to Iowa State University to educate student and professional leaders in the natural resource sciences about the roles of hunting and its impact on conservation.


Long-term, standardized data collection for Michigan fisheries
Sport Fish Restoration funding has supported Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to develop a standardized sampling plan for long-term collection of spatial and temporal data for aquatic communities and habitat, which can supplement lake and stream classification data. This will allow for improved definitions of population status, identify spatial and temporal patterns in aquatic communities, and track changes due to landscape features, habitat characteristics, or regional factors such as climate. The sampling techniques identified are more intensive and extensive than traditional lake and stream surveys. The primary modules for sampling lakes in this sampling plan include fish surveys, limnology, zooplankton, and residential lakeshore development, while the primary modules for sampling streams are fish, water temperature, instream habitat, and riparian surveys. Fisheries managers have applauded Michigan's standardization of gear and sampling techniques, to get a more comprehensive data for the long-term.



Comprehensive statewide fisheries management in Missouri
The Missouri Department of Conservation (DOC) utilizes Sport Fish Restoration funds to carry out a comprehensive statewide fisheries management program, which creates an efficient, effective and accountable way of consolidating activities for planning and implementing statewide surveys, habitat improvement projects, landowner technical assistance, and other fisheries and aquatic resources planning.

Surveys and inventories are conducted to gather fish population, angler use, and other information needed to effectively manage the state's streams and public lakes for quality fishing. Missouri DOC also conducts habitat improvement, including stream habitat improvement projects on public lands, and public lake habitat improvement projects, and provides technical guidance to private landowners to effectively manage their lands and waters for good water quality and habitat, healthy aquatic communities, and quality fishing, and other benefits. This grant has been used as an efficient model for other states to emulate, and is used in the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program's National Training Program.


Development of the Ohio Biodiversity Conservation Partnership (OBCP) at Ohio State University (OSU)
The Ohio Division of Wildlife has utilized State Wildlife Grant funding to develop a partnership with Ohio State University (OSU) to create the Ohio Biodiversity Conservation Partnership (OBCP). OSU faculty, graduate and undergraduate students cooperate on practical, applied research to protect and learn about the species of greatest conservation need and their habitats as defined in the Ohio Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy. This partnership allows for sharing of physical and intellectual resources between the university and the Ohio Division of Wildlife and provides access to OSU expertise for insight and consultation with wildlife biologists and managers.


Practical, applied fisheries research in Wisconsin
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has one of strongest state fish research programs in the upper Midwest. Many fisheries research projects are funded in part through Sport Fish Restoration Program grants including those related to climate change impacts on Wisconsin stream fish, evaluating large river hydropower impacts, evaluating fish community response to stream flow changes in the Menominee River system, and examining conservation genetics of Wisconsin fish. Sport Fish restoration funding also supports the state's fish hatchery system through research projects related to fish propagation. The Wisconsin fisheries program also utilizes these funds to evaluate lake sturgeon distribution, movement and stocking success in the upper St. Croix and Nmaekagon Rivers.

Improving efficiency at Wild Rose State Fish Hatchery in Wisconsin
Sport Fish Restoration funding supported the expansion and renovation of Wild Rose State Fish Hatchery in Wisconsin, a more than 100-year old facility in dire need of repair to maintain stocking demands for trout, salmon, northern mike, lake sturgeon, spotted musky and walleye. Wild Rose State Fish Hatchery, a critical workhorse for Wisconsin's fish propagation system, was able to construct a new cold water hatchery for trout and salmon and a cool water hatchery for northern pike, spotted musky, walleye and lake sturgeon. Phase 1 of construction built a nursery for egg incubation and early rearing, a broodstock building, four covered production raceway buildings, new water supply, distribution and water reuse systems that bring the water supply into compliance, a new consolidated, state-of-the-art fish rearing wastewater treatment system and a visitors center. Phase 2 involved the construction of a cool water nursery building for egg incubation, hatching and early rearing and the ability to rear fish under intensive, recirculation conditions, the construction of 14 modern rearing ponds and construction of a water supply and distribution system that includes a high capacity well. The third and final phase of this project is underway. This will include the restoration of the wetlands, springs and headwaters of a stream that were on the site before the old hatchery was built more than a century ago. A backup groundwater well will also be constructed to supply both the cool and cold water sides of the hatchery.

With these renovations and enhancements, Wild Rose is a state-of-the-art hatchery facility with greater efficiency and flexibility, and increased environmental protection. The hatchery will produce healthier fish, and will be able to increase production of trout and salmon by about 15 percent and will be able to nearly double its production of northern pike, spotted musky, lake sturgeon and walleye.

Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota Joint Project

Restoring and Protecting Habitat for Species of Greatest Conservation Need in the Driftless Area
Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota have joined forces in a focused effort to restore and protect the habitat and wildlife of the Driftless Area with support from the State Wildlife Grants Competitive (SWGC) program. On both private and public lands, at least 4,750 acres of bluff prairie, oak savanna and woodland habitat will be restored and habitat restoration and management technical support will be provided to private landowners. At least 140 acres of critical habitat will be purchased for permanent protection. The states will also use the funding to conduct surveys for species of greatest conservation and identify an area for biomass-compatible native habitat restoration to demonstrate opportunities for utilizing by-products from restoration efforts. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) selected this partnership for funding through the SWGC program after completing a review of competing proposals from across the country. The federal share of the three-state proposal is $972,000; the non-federal matching share is $783,463.

Last updated: January 4, 2017