Brushing N. Br. Oconto July 17th

Brushing crew taking a needed break in sweltering heat

Crew starting to cover bundles with sediment

Crew starting to cover bundles with sediment

Brush bundling channel narrowing and stream bank reconstruction

Our 3rd work project of the summer was on the upper North Branch Oconto River which is a continuation of prior year’s work.  We now have improved about ¾ miles of stream channel at this location.

New this year, we are trying a Friday work project followed by a Saturday project.

On Friday the 17th we worked with Tom Moris and his crew of 3 from the United States Forest Service (USFS), and continued the stream work we have been doing the past four summers.

These are summer employees that NE Region TU chapters help fund.

On Friday, we improved about 500 feet of stream channel.  More specifically we placed brush bundles, secured them by shoveling stream sediment (sand and debris) and creating new stream banks.  We then added woody structures at key locations.

Three members of the Green Bay chapter were joined by 3 members of the Oconto Chapter and DNR Biologist, Jonathan Pyatskowit.   Green Bay members included Dennis Dugre, Lee Meyers and Jeff House.

The Oconto Chapter members were Bob Omba, Byron Dugre and Don Wagner.

The summer employees of the Forest Service included Jordan Gust (2nd year), Dallas Topper and Carmen Thiel.

Lunch was provided following the work complements of the Oconto and Green Bay chapters.

Thanks to all the TU members for their valuable work efforts.

Also, in conversation we heard of the exciting work on the efforts to remove blockages at the headwaters of the North Branch and the removal of some culverts near Wabeno.   This gave us a chance to hear about the additional Trout Habitat work being done this summer on the South and North Branches of the Oconto.    We also heard some the planned efforts of Jonathan Pyatskwit and the WDNR further south.

Here is some Trout Populations of the upper North Branch Oconto, (WDNR data).

Bob and Tom talking woody structures

Bob and Tom talking woody structures

In 2014, we were provided with new trout population survey data thanks to the Forest County WDNR, for the areas we have been doing habitat work on the North Branch Oconto the past several years.

In short, our habitat improved section (at North Branch Rd) had more than doubled the number of brook trout compared to the reference area downstream where the North Branch crosses Hwy 32.  Also, the trout were bigger, with 48% of the population 7 inches or larger, compared to only 10% over 7 inches in the reference section.

The North Branch, where it flows along the City of Wabeno, has about 700 brook trout per mile with 30% over 7 inches.   These are natural, native, WILD trout which are much harder fish than any stocked trout.   These native brooks have a natural instinct to find cold water spring areas when needed during the summer or winter.  A key is protecting these cold water areas and removing any blockage that would hinder this movement.