Meeting Detailed Agenda Day 2

Craig Johnson
Kansas Dept of Wildlife and Parks

Abstract: The ageing of Kansas impoundments and resulting habitat deterioration necessitates habitat improvement projects to maintain quality fishing opportunities. Kansas Department of Wildlife & Parks (KDWP) fisheries biologists often partner with other agency divisions, sportsman groups, and volunteer groups to complete projects. These partnerships have provided access to heavy equipment that is not currently included in the KDWP Fisheries Division’s inventory. Skid steer loaders with tree saws and grapple buckets greatly increased output of habitat projects involving placement of tree and brush piles. The increased efficiency in tree cutting and loading of habitat barges quicky exposed the next bottleneck. Heavy equipment allowed larger trees to be utilized for habitat, but these larger structures were difficult to safely deploy from the barges. Commercially produced dump barges were explored and skyrocketing boat prices prevented timely acquisition of new equipment. Upgrading of existing habitat barges with hydraulic dump decks was the best option to meet the goals of increased safety, increased capacity, and increased efficiency of habitat structure deployment while operating within current budget allowances. Two KDWP barges have been upgraded in SE Kansas with slightly different designs.

Chevy Roper
South Carolina Department of Natural Resources

In 2006, the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources received a settlement from Schlumberger Technology Corporation for damages to the Lake Hartwell recreational fisheries due to PCB contamination in the Twelve Mile arm of the reservoir. The $2.8 million settlement is to be used for enhancement of fish habitat within the reservoir. The goal of the Lake Hartwell Fish Habitat Enhancement Project is to improve recreational fishery through enhancing fish habitat features such as shoreline, shallow-water, and deep-water habitat. These enhancements will provide cover, increase spawning and nursery habitat, improve forage for popular gamefish species, act as fish concentration areas, and improve angler success. Since the start of this project in 2014, fifteen sites have been enhanced with over 3,000 pieces of natural and manmade materials being used to construct habitat structures throughout Lake Hartwell.

Jim McFarlane
Reef Innovations / Reef Ball Foundation

Reef Balls are a designed reef module that took shape 30 years ago. The Reef Ball Foundation is a 501.c 3 organization. Larry Beggs has been connected with the Reef Ball Foundation since the 90's. Jim McFarlane saw the Reef Ball as a great artificial reef module to use in Hernando County in 1994 the Hernando County Port Authority initiated its first project. The thirty years of experience within over 80 countries and over 1.6 billion reef balls deployed bring to the table a great source for ideas and best practices for your project. The design of Reef Balls provides a low center of gravity that stays where it is placed. The Reef Ball has been used in high-energy environments for habitat and resilience. Research starting in the 90s has shown great results in wave attenuation and accretion of sands. Reef Balls have been used in offshore projects over 600 ft to living shorelines. In moving water, the design of the Reef Ball creates many micro eddy currents ideal for filter feeders. There have been many successes using Reef Balls in reservoirs.

Rebecca Krogman
Iowa Department of Natural Resources

The use of innovative and traditional data sources combined to assess recreational behavior at renovated locations

Steven Bardin
Black Bass Stewardship Group

Major League Fishing Bass Pro Tour anglers compete using a catch weight and immediate release format. Each fish is scored by an onboard official and entered into the ScoreTracker system. Data collected for each individual fish catch includes species, weight, depth, habitat type, time, date, and GPS location. The MLF Fisheries Management Division catalogs all the catch data and provides it to relevant state resource managers. From 2019 through 2023 the BPT anglers have logged a total of 5239 scoreable fish from four Tennessee reservoirs. Using GIS each fish catch has been mapped for Cherokee, Douglas, Watts Bar, and Chickamauga and in depth analysis of trends for habitat and depth have been explored.

Amberle Jones
Arizona Game and Fish Department

Historically, Arizona reservoir aquatic habitat enhancement projects were designed, led, and evaluated by Regional Aquatic Wildlife Programs. These programs typically consisted of two to four biologists, and the habitat projects had to fit in when timing and resources were available. This resulted in long stretches between habitat projects getting done. As of 2022, the Region 6 Aquatic Wildlife program manages six of the the top 15 most fished waters in Arizona. These are all water storage or multiple use reservoirs that are managed primarily as bass fisheries but have a host of other species as well. In the mid 2000s warm water anglers were frustrated with the Department as many of the bass populations were experiencing declines due to multiple issues including drought, aquatic invasive species, and illegal introductions. Despite all these problems, a 2013 statewide angler study found that all six of the main lakes in Region 6 were in the top 10 water bodies fished in the state. Due to the declines in warm water fisheries, in 2013 the Department saw a need to create a Reservoir Fish Habitat Program under the Aquatic Wildlife Branch. The first project of the new program was Roosevelt Lake and included a Reservoir Fish Habitat Partnership grant. Since the development of the Reservoir Habitat program, there have been habitat improvement projects at all but one of the lakes, which is slated for this summer. The program has grown, learned, and thrived over the last ten years. This talk will discuss the progression the program has made and its impacts in Region 6 reservoirs over the last decade including lessons learned and what the future may hold.

Earl Conway
Sun Country Outdoors

Noreen Clough awarded me the unofficial "Red Tape Worm" award for getting a permit to do fish habitat work on Elephant Butte Reservoir. It took three years and a final push by a supporter at the Bureau of Reclamation. But I don't think even she could have foreseen how difficult it can be to take a project from grant writing through permitting and closure. This presentation will briefly describe some of the challenges an organization might face from getting permission from the water manager to jumping through the regulatory hoops. Luckily the grant amounts have increased over the years and it can be worth the effort to run the gauntlet, but it isn't getting easier. It has become clear to me that we could do better as a community sharing resources to help each other through the hard parts. We need to figure out what the best role is for volunteers, non-profits, local, state and Federal agencies. Examples will include latest experiences from the projects at Carlsbad, New Mexico and Cochiti Lake, New Mexico, including having to work on tribal lands.