TU Hired Crews
Article written on 2016-10-27 by: Kim McCarthy
TU HIRED CREWS
A HUGE HABITAT SUCCESS STORY
In the 1980s Trout Unlimited Chapters in Northern Wisconsin came together to form the Northeast Region of Wisconsin Trout Unlimited. The chapters have long been united by the basic concepts that there is strength in numbers and chapters pooling resources can undertake much larger projects than chapters acting individually. Trout Unlimited is currently encouraging the concept of ONE TU in which everyone feels that, “we are all in this together.” To their credit, the chapters in the Northeast Region have actually had that feeling of cooperation for many years
In the early 2000s the NE chapters were becoming concerned about the amount of habitat work being performed in Northern areas of the state. The Driftless Area Restoration Effort had gotten started and members in our part of the state were questioning why more work couldn’t be accomplished closer to home. As the situation was studied it was determined that the needs of Northeastern streams were very different from Driftless Area streams, and the type of work needed in our part of the state was simply different from what was needed in the Driftless Area. The Northeast streams had become clogged with overgrowth of willow and alder and lacked in stream cover. The type of work needed could, in most cases, be accomplished with good old manual labor.
DNR was approached about partnering with Trout Unlimited to develop a plan that would greatly increase the amount of in stream habitat work. The Department was receptive to that request, and the plan that ultimately developed was to have Trout Unlimited fund hired labor that would work under DNR supervision on habitat work around Northern Wisconsin. Trout Unlimited agreed to hire labor at the rate of $7500 per person which amounts to 500 hours of labor at a rate of $15.00 per hour. The hired crews would focus on the types of manual labor needed to remove willow and alder over growth and then bundle the brush and place it to narrow and deepen area streams. The hired labor would also work on placing in stream cover.
The first Trout Unlimited habitat crew went to work out of the Peshtigo office in 2009. Over 7 miles of habitat work was accomplished that first year, and perhaps just as important, the first crew showed that the program would accomplish the goal of increasing the amount of habitat work in Northern Areas.
Another very important part of having Trout Unlimited hire labor for DNR is that we found out that the cost of stream improvements in Northeastern Wisconsin is tiny compared to the cost of doing work in the Driftless Area. Driftless Area restoration frequently runs over a hundred thousand dollars per mile of stream improved. When the hired crews began improving Northeastern waters, we realized that great work could be done for only a couple of thousand dollars per mile. The big price difference was because the Driftless Area work always requires the use of heavy equipment while the Northeastern work involves manual labor.
Since 2009 the number of employees being hired by DNR with Trout Unlimited funding has increased to 7 positions. The miles of stream improvement being done on an annual basis is now in the range of 30 miles. For the 2016 work season two person crews were based in Antigo, Lakewood, and Wild Rose. The United States Forest Service had another TU hired employee working on national forest areas.
The NE region Trout Unlimited Chapters have created one of the largest habitat programs in the country in terms of mileage being improved. The success is due to the willingness of the chapters to work together and strive for improvement in the resource. The hope is that for many years TU hired crews will be in the field making trout habitat better in Northern Wisconsin.