Trout Stream Projects, A New Twist
Seems like years ago now (and I guess it has been) that the MTA started looking at DNR fisheries’ stream management projects with a critical eye. That our first inquiries about project plans were not met with enthusiasm by DNR staff would be an understatement. All beaver are still considered vermin by some trout managing and angling folks, I expect. The good news is that not all fish managers and their projects are cast in the same mold. Your president Shawn and I had the pleasure of learning this last week when we visited Kevin Peterson, International Falls Area Fisheries Supervisor. Kevin showed us plans for several projects slated for tributaries of the Lost River. We scrutinized aerial photos as he reviewed his planning process for us. We were shown stretches of the Lost River tributaries that contained cold water springs and other habitat features essential to native brook trout. He also pointed out stretches dropped from further consideration because he thought efforts would not benefit either the fish or the angler. Kevin carefully considers past, current and expected angler interest before committing time and money on a stream project. Areas that have poor angler access are avoided.
We have criticized trout management projects that we thought had insufficient pre-project data and also those that lacked high post-project benefits. It is MTA’s position that money should not be spent unless benefits are worthwhile and that achievement of goals are shown to be highly likely. Shawn and I got clear and complete answers to questions we asked about water flows and temperatures, cold water spring locations, presence of suitable spawning beds, wintering areas, and hot weather refuges. It isn’t just problem beaver that affect trout streams. Little things not often thought about, such as improper culvert installations, can keep fish from reaching spawning areas resulting in abandonment of productive stream stretches. Also, poorly designed developments can be sources of sediments and chemical pollutants harmful to wildlife. The Soil and Water Conservation District and DNR Fisheries offices are cooperating to make these projects do double duty by correcting some of these problems.Did we forget about the beaver removal connected with these projects? No we didn’t. We were satisfied that many of the beaver living in these streams could be taken by licensed trappers and that any additional removal for trout management would be minimal with no harm coming to the Lost River Basin population.
As we were leaving our meeting, Kevin mentioned that he still had about nine under-the-ice beaver traps to check. Now you know one of the reasons he works hard at balancing his responsibilities for managing trout with our interests in trapping.