Habitat Work Projects

Habitat Work Projects

Brook Trout Image

Brook trout ( Salvelinus fontinalis )

Trout streams are continually degraded by human and natural events.  We work to optimize trout habitats by improving stream and watershed conditions.  If you’re not afraid to roll up your sleeves and participate in some outdoor activity, we’d love the extra power!  Some of the methods we utilize are illustrated below in the Techniques section.

Please click on this Brook Trout ( Salvelinus fontinalis ) link to learn more about our fish friends.

Completed projects are testimony to GBTU’s ability to provide effective solutions that mesh seamlessly into natural, trout environments.  Work projects are held on the third Saturday during the summer months, accomplishing physical stream improvements and getting to know other chapter members.

Dr. Robert L. Hunt’s book “Trout Stream Therapy” is the resource for learning about trout stream habitat improvement. The text, pictures and color illustrations are excellent.

Visit our Galleries for pictures of our work projects.

Where & How We Work

Collaborative stream work is undertaken throughout Oconto, Marinette, Forest and Langlade counties.

We work across the entire Oconto River watershed including the numerous north and south branches to benefit brook and brown trout and also the lower river below the Stiles dam.  On the upper river: brush bundles, tag alder removal, large log structures, debris and beaver dam removal are performed on a regular basis.

McCaslin Brook has been a focus of the chapter to benefit brook trout.  We perform brush bundle installation, channel dredging, debris and tag alder removal.

Our work on Beaver Creek continues from the 1970’s, when a major restoration project was undertaken.  Recently, an improperly placed culvert was replaced allowing fish passage to miles of previously inaccessible upstream spawning areas. Within the past few years, rock placement and reinforcement of eight existing overhead boom structures was accomplished. These structures provide deep undercut banks, an ideal trout habitat. Brush bundles, tag alder removal, and rock placement are ongoing tasks.


Brush Bundling & Placement

Stake lines are placed to guide bundle placement for stream contour.  Conifers and/or tag alders are pulled together with rope, placed and anchored at the edges of streams.  Proper placement narrows and deepens the channel, provides undercut banks, restores the natural meander of the stream, and the thalweg (the central current) is enhanced.  Stream sediment is continually captured by the bundles allowing banks to form and grasses to establish.

Stake lines strategically placed

Stake lines strategically placed

Wire anchors also strategically placed

Wire anchors also systematically placed

Tie-downs via anchors and stakes

Tie-downs via anchors and stakes

Conifers placed to reduce wide channel

Placed conifers reduce channel width

Meandering stream channel increase flow rate

Meandering stream increase flow rate

Vegetation results after a couple years in making

Vegetation results after a few years

Large log structures

Large logs are anchored in various stream positions depending on the desired effect: along side the bank, mid stream parallel to currents, and from the bank extending across current.  Proper placement provides overhead safety cover, diverts water flow, scours the stream bottom, and cuts the channel for best flow and trout holding depth.  Proper flow and wood cover is ideal trout habitat.

Stream positions

Side and mid log placement in stream

Side & Mid

Log place across stream


Natural logs on right side of stream


Stream placement

Matt floating in log

Matt floating in log

Crewman checking placement of log

Check placement

Crewman drilling holes for anchors

Drilling holes for anchors

Final positioning and anchoring with embedded cable

Workers positioning logs


crew anchoring log with root wad

Anchoring with root wad

Logs and root wad secure


Brushing – tag alder & debris removal

Tag alders are cut from along the stream edges and frequently re-used for bundling placement.  Tag alder removal allows: sunlight to enter the stream, proper water low, and meadow re-growth along the banks.  In-stream debris interfering with proper stream flow is removed or placed in a different area.  Removal assists in clearing trout gravel spawning areas, with increased stream depth and flow.  The pictures below illustrate tag alder removal on the Oconto & Evergreen rivers.

Tag Alders providing to much stream side canopy

Heavy stream side canopy

Adrian, Randy and crew cut tag Alders

Adrian, Randy and crew cut tag Alders

Jeff, Randy and Arian start to bundle brush

Jeff, Randy and Adrian begin bundling

Removing tag Alders in stream help decrease current drag

Decrease current drag

Increasing some sunlight helps the eco system thrive

Increasing sunlight

Brush bundling results in more open stream to navigate

Results in more open stream

Beaver dam removal

Initially, beaver dams can provide large holding pools for trout, however, over time the structures cause: increased water temperatures by slowing steam flow, siltation of gravel, degrading of banks, and barriers to fish migration.  The process begins by trapping and removing beavers from areas of infestation.  Dam and food cache removal restores trout habitat throughout the area by permitting the stream to have proper flow.  Large dam removal usually requires extensive bank restoration.

Beaver Dam slows flow increases temp

Dam slows flow increases temp

Beaver dam before removal

Beaver dam before removal

Beaver Dam removed and flow restored

Dam removed and flow restored

Beaver Food cache obstructs flow

Food cache obstructs flow

Beaver's immense food cache

Beaver’s immense food cache

Large food cache moved to bank

Large food cache moved to bank

Channel sediment dredging

Sediment is removed from the steam bottom to expose gravel and increase depth and flow.  When used in conjunction with brush bundles, the sediment is placed on top on the bundles for faster establishment of grasses.  Heavy equipment is utilized when permitted and the dredging’s are placed to restore proper stream meander.

Manual dredging of stream bottom used to cover brush bundles

Manual dredging of muck

Great shovel full of sediment

Great shovel full of sediment

Manual dredging results in Deeper channel & covered bundles

Deeper channel & covered bundles

Heavy equipment brought in to facilitate dredging

Heavy equipment dredging

Results in beautiful meandering stream and planted grass

Results in beautiful meandering stream