On Thursday, 2/5/15, we will be having guest speaker Rob Elliot in from the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Rob is a fisheries biologist, and he is the lake sturgeon coordinator at the Green Bay office. He will be talking about the development of fish passage for lake sturgeon on the lower Menominee River, specifically around the hydroelectric dam. There is a lack of access to upriver habitats for lake sturgeon, and this is believed to be limiting the successful reproduction and growth of the sturgeon population in the Menominee River. He is working to reestablish a migration route around the two lower dams that will hopefully increase abundance of the lake sturgeon population.
Our meetings are at 4:00pm in MAC 201. Hope to see you there!
At our AFS meeting last week, Mike Mushinski from the Brown County Land & Water Conservation department came in to talk about northern pike restoration projects he is involved with. He is currently involved with a west shore YOY and adult monitoring project that has been going on since 2003. Green Bay proper has a poor habitat for these fish, and Mike is focusing on small, intermittent streams and wetland complexes to study them. Due to habitat degradation, there has been a significant decrease in northern pike populations. This is mostly because the pike do not have a place to spawn where their larvae are successfully able to make it out to the bay. Northern pike are not a species that needs assistance in reproducing – they do fine with that. What they need is a place for successful reproduction. They require small ephemeral wetlands, lots of vegetation, and shallow waters for a significant amount of time.
Part of the project includes setting out wooden box traps to catch the YOY northern pike migrating back out to the bay. The pike were counted and measured, and then released. This data has shown that within the last 3-4 years, populations have increased substantially. It was also found that many other species utilize these wetlands, including black bullhead, suckers, shortnose gar, bowfin, yellow perch, and many minnow/shiner species.
Another significant part of this restoration project is creating barriers, or water control structures, to hold water in a spawning site. This is a way to keep water levels up so that the ichthyoplankton can develop and the young-of-year fish can migrate out.
One initial positive to this study is that northern pike do not use natal homing to return to the stream they were spawned in, so that means that they may be more likely to utilize these restored areas for reproduction.
Our first meeting back from winter break will be held this coming Thursday, 1/29/15, from 4:00pm-5:00pm. Mike Mushinksi will be our guest speaker. He works for the Brown County Land & Water Conservation, and he is in charge of the west shore pike habitat restoration project. He will be sharing on how the project is progressing, and also his involvement in other restoration projects in the area.
This coming Thursday we will be having guest speaker Erin Wilcox in from N.E.W. Water to attend our AFS meeting. She will be presenting on her educational and career background, what she is currently involved with regarding N.E.W. Water’s water quality monitoring program, and a summary of some of the recent data they have collected.
We hope to see you all there at 3:00pm!
This past Thursday, we had Mike Donofrio, the fisheries team leader from the WDNR come in the talk with us on what he is currently involved with regarding lake sturgeon. The DNR is measuring the lake sturgeon spawning fidelity to Green Bay rivers – where they spawn and whether it is the same location as where they hatched. They wanted to do some research with genetic structuring to create a genetic tree of populations and genetic similarities. Of the total lake sturgeon population in Lake Michigan, 75% of their spawning activity occurs in the bay of Green Bay, and 50% of the total occurs just in the Menominee River.
The process of tracking the species begins by anchoring a sonic transmitter and receiver into the sediment of each river. This transmitter has a cone-shaped signal whose radius reaches both banks of said river. It has a Bluetooth that accounts for each passing fish, and this is how each fish is noted. Later on, they go back through the data to make sure a single fish hasn’t passed more than once, and therefore counted more than once. They track the fish by using a VEMCO tag, inserted in the fish to track movement. Between 2011 and 2014, during the months of April & May, they capture the lake sturgeon by electroshocking and using dipnets.
So far they’ve found that many fish, when not spawning, are transitory between river systems throughout their life, and many do not report back to their river of origin. Some actually stay within the same river throughout the year. Usually it was the males and not females who would return to spawn. Data will continue to be collected on this subject for some time yet.
Our meetings will resume this week Thursday at 3:00pm with guest speaker Mike Donofrio. Mike works for the Wisconsin DNR, and he is the Lake Sturgeon Coordinator for Lake Michigan. He manages lake sturgeon populations in Green Bay and in the Menominee, Peshtigo, Oconto, and Fox Rivers. Mike will be talking about the current Green Bay lake sturgeon projects, so it is bound to be an informative presentation.
We hope to see you all there!
NOTE: There will NOT be a meeting this Thursday, 10/30/14, OR 11/6/14.
Last week Thursday, we had Jeremy Pyatskowit from the Menominee Indian Tribe in to talk with us. He is the new environmental services director for the tribe, and he talked about their current approach to and assessment of culvert replacement and forest road crossings.
There is no way around causing some intrusion to rivers and streams if we want to build roads. However, there are ways to alter the environment so that aquatic species can pass through and thrive in the most natural state possible. Many culverts were not built with maintaining lotic ecosystems in mind. The Menominee Indian Tribe is working to correct some of these workings on their land. It takes a lot of work to replace water passage mechanisms underneath a roadway, and Jeremy is in charge of implementing all of this. He deals with permits, site visits, measuring & assessing the condition of the existing culvert, measuring & assessing the stream itself in several locations, and overseeing the installation. Many challenges arise, including dealing with offset culverts, frequent washouts, unpredicted downstream conditions, and old logging dams blocking streamflow. The size of culvert varies according to stream width, and none of their culverts are installing at a slope, since streams in this area of the country flow at a pretty low gradient.
This past Thursday, we had Tammie Paoli of the WI DNR come in to talk with us. Tammie is a fisheries biologist out of the Peshtigo office, and she is also the president of the Wisconsin Chapter of the American Fisheries Society. Her “office” is located within the 800,000 acres she works on. Tammie’s work focuses specifically on northern pike, yellow perch, and brown trout, although she does work with a diversity of species and ecosystems as well. Tammie highlighted the fact that being a fisheries biologist means splitting up your duties into three areas: people, habitat, and the fish. A large part of her job is working with the public in all sorts of situations.
Tammie is involved with quite a wide range of projects and responsibilities. Some include: Large river, inland lake, & trout stream surveys, helping draft management plans (ie Lake Mchigan 10-yr plan), planning and executing habitat projects with various agencies, floy-tagging brown trout, looking at fish diets post trawling surveys, leading the west shore of GB in creel data collecting, submitting rule change proposals (TACH), participating on the WI cormorant management team, and of course, a ton of outreach!
On Thursday, October 16th, we will have Tammie Paoli from the Peshtigo DNR come in to talk with us about her job as a fisheries biologist. Tammie is also the president of the Wisconsin Chapter of AFS, so she will be sharing a bit on her role & responsibilities regarding that.
Again, we are going to the Strawberry Creek Weir to process salmon that day as well. We plan to leave at 9:30am and return in time for the meeting at 3:00pm. Email email@example.com if you would like to attend. Otherwise, we hope to see you at the meeting!