Oklahoma’s Reservoir Habitat Program: Development of Fish Cubes in Oklahoma
As reservoirs age, existing habitat breaks down and ceases to provide benefit to reservoir fishes. Artificial fish habitat such as cubes provide a longer lasting alternative compared to more natural cedar or hardwood brush piles. However, constructing artificial cubes represent a more costly investment than traditional brush piles at a time when many wildlife agencies are faced with tightening budgets making it difficult to purchase and construct cubes at a beneficial scale. Based on success of different NGO’s at engaging the public to help fund habitat improvements across the country, Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC) fisheries staff developed a plan to fund and build Shelbyville cubes for waterbodies across the state by engaging the public and using a novel funding source. The ability to leverage additional monies through the Sport Fish Restoration Program enabled ODWC to multiply the money available and to benefit multiple water bodies instead of a singular water body as other efforts across the country have done. This in turn is expected to further engage the public across the state and grow support for cube builds in the future.