Small Grants Awarded to Five FOR Chapters!

The Reservoir Fisheries Habitat Partnership and Friends of Reservoirs is proud to announce that five chapters were awarded with the 2023 Small Grant for fish habitat work! These were voted on and approved at the 2023 Annual Business Meeting. Check them out below:

Table Rock Lake/Lake Taneycomo, Missouri (FOR Chapter: H2Ozarks - Upper White River Basin Foundation)

Fishing is a fun activity that offers tremendous benefits to our youth. Through the H2Ozarks Youth Fishing and Water Quality Program, students will develop skills and knowledge they can use for the rest of their lives. Youth will benefit from this program by:

• Gaining skills for an outdoor activity they can use for a lifetime and pass on to others. • Feeling a sense of accomplishment and building self-confidence. • Learning problem-solving and decision-making skills. • Escaping from everyday problems. • Gaining a sense of responsibility and respect for the environment. • Learning what harms fish habitat and our waterways. • Learning they can make a difference by protecting fish habitat, natural resources, and our waterways. • Forming a relationship with nature.

The community benefits from this program as well by gaining a generation of youth who care about our wildlife, the habitats they live in, clean water, and a desire to protect our natural resources. The key factor to this program is these young students will receive fishing equipment they can take home with them for their own use if they complete all three sessions. This gives them an incentive to attend each class and the tools to continue practicing the skills they learned. This program is supported by the Missouri Department of Conservation through the permitted use of Bella Donna educational pond at the Shepherd of the Hills Hatchery in Branson, Missouri. This program will be open to youth ages 8 – 16 that live in Barry, Stone, and Taney counties of Missouri.

Town Center Pond (Austin), Texas (FOR Chapter: Texas B.A.S.S. Nation)

The objectives of this project are 1) the completion of a renovation of Town Center Pond to include dredging, reshaping, contouring (Phase I), 2) installation of structural fish habitat, establishing native vegetation, adding an electric diffuse aeration system and fish attractors (Phase II). This is a multi-phased project, which the efforts relevant to this proposal will focus on Phase II that includes the shoreline stabilization, erosion control, and subsequent fish habitat enhancement efforts. The City of Early’s Town Center Pond renovation project will create a revitalized community resource that will offer a diverse, convenient fishing opportunity for families and other residents in West Texas where such fisheries are limited and scattered in the predominantly rural region of the state. Community fishing ponds are necessary for offering diverse, convenient fishing experiences for families, especially youth, and they are also important for recruiting, reactivating, and retaining anglers that support conservation and sales of fishing licenses. These waterbodies are less intimidating and more accessible for inexperienced anglers than larger reservoirs. City of Early is a small city and directly borders the larger City of Brownwood, Texas. Combined these communities are comprised of nearly 21,000 people. While these cities are within close proximity to the Pecan Bayou Texas State Paddling Trail and Brownwood Reservoir, there is not a community fishing pond within an approximate 45-min drive time. The renovation project of the Town Center Pond will offer a community fishery for the cities of Early, Brownwood, and other neighboring towns and will aid in diversifying fishing opportunities for constituents, increasing awareness of fisheries and wildlife conservation, and improving quality of life. It’s important to note that this project is important for recruiting new anglers into the sport of fishing. Many young people do not have access to boats, or the vehicle transportation required, to fish major public reservoirs in Texas. Enhancing fish habitat and making quality fishing in small impoundments such as this helps further our sport and helps engage children into the outdoors.

Tioga Reservoir, Pennsylvania (FOR Chapter: Tioga County Bass Anglers)

The objective of this project is to create additional aquatic habitat at Tioga Lake through artificial habitat structures. We will specifically use this funding to purchase 36 Short Vertical Plank Structure kits and concrete blocks to anchor the structures. The structures will also allow us to have more habitat diversity at the proposed placement site. These habitat structures will improve recruitment, species richness, and the efficiency of aquatic fish populations while providing improved fishing opportunities at Tioga Lake.

Lake Livingston, Texas (FOR Chapter: Friends of Lake Livingston)

Long an exceptional freshwater fishery and a haven for ducks, wading birds and other wildlife, Lake Livingston is nearly 60 years old. It has lost much of its aquatic habitat and the water quality has declined. Once a destination for bass anglers, there has seen a precipitous decline in angling activity. Recreation on Lake Livingston is a major economic engine for numerous surrounding communities and the decline in the fishery has negatively affected local revenues. Since 2013 and with start-up and continuing assistance from Friends of Reservoirs, Texas Parks & Wildlife the Trinity River Authority, the Hookers Fishing Club (Livingston, TX), and 5 local high school Ag programs, Friends of Lake Livingston is restoring habitat for fish and wildlife populations by adding aquatic and riparian plants to create feeding and breeding grounds and reducing erosion! Working with the local community to achieve these objectives is considered fundamental to the FoLL project. Additionally, the FoLL project has recently partnered with the Livingston, TX Hookers club who will be working with the FoLL project team to begin introducing hybrid bass into Lake Livingston. The long-term goal of the project is to increase the abundance and diversity of native aquatic plant species and riparian habitat in and around Lake Livingston, TX, thereby improving littoral habitat conditions for the fish community and other aquatic life. Texas Parks & Wildlife has proposed that a successful restoration will need to cover 5% - (4,250 acres) of the lake and/or shoreline habitat. Additionally, through work with our volunteer high schools, we have discovered that a significant number of volunteering students do not know how to fish or if they do, rarely go. As such, we have started a new program called Angler Education, in collaboration with the Livingston “Hookers” fishing club and with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Fishing Futures – Angler Education program. At our recent high school plantings, fishing instruction and actual Fishing has now been incorporated into the volunteer effort.

Paintsville Lake, Kentucky (FOR Chapter: Anglers for Improving Opportunities)

Paintsville Lake is an 1100 acre lake in Eastern Kentucky. Paintsville Lake was impounded in 1983 and has provided outdoor recreation since that time to residents and visitors of Johnson County Kentucky. Last year Anglers For Improving Opportunities was formed in conjunction with the Kentucky Team Trail and to assist in improving projects completed by Casting For Kids. We began with a DNA and relative weight sample on our largemouth bass population last April. We conducted samples of 97 fish and used this data to illustrate limiting factors affecting sportfishing opportunities at Paintsville Lake. Our first habitat project started last year, we placed 61 pieces of habitat in Paintsville Lake including "Shelbyville cubes", the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife helped build and deploy these structures. Our community has stepped up in a big way supporting these efforts, we have raised about $25,000 locally just this month to support further improvements. The habitat project last year came at a cost of $0 due to donations of labor from high school fishing teams, local bass clubs and local donations from businesses.

In the short term our plans are to build 250 corrugated stump structures to supplement the new $160,000 Casting For Kids Boardwalk that was recently constructed to allow handicapped kids the ability to fish at water level with rod holders. For approximately $1,300, we can constructed 100 of these, and we can match the $1,500 small grant with our own funds.