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TU launches Trimbelle restoration project

The Trimbelle Recreation Area restoration site currently consists of slow, warm pools filled with sediment. Submitted photo.

In conjunction with the Pierce County Land Conservation Department, Pierce County Parks Department, and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources --the Kiap-TU-Wish Chapter of Trout Unlimited announced last week the launch of a stream habitat restoration project on the Trimbelle River in located in Pierce County.

The project will restore nearly 1,000 feet of stream habitat for trout and other aquatic species in the Trimbelle Recreation Area, which is located approximately 5 miles west of Ellsworth on Pierce County Road O -- just 1/2 mile south of U.S. Highway 10.

This project will provide brown trout conservation and help reduce the need for stocking of non-wild hatchery brown trout in the river. The project also connects two previous habitat restoration projects completed in 2000 and 2007 above and below the project site.

There is a recent Pierce County Park Department addition of picnic tables, shelters and parking area adjacent to the proposed site. The project will also lend itself well to educational opportunities and community access, including a handicapped accessible fishing area.

"The Trimbelle River is a watershed with exceptional water quality," Kyle Amundson, chapter president of Kiap-Tu-Wish said. "And with some stream restoration work from Trout Unlimited and the Wisconsin Department of natural Resources, it will become another exceptional trout fishery in Western Wisconsin."

The project is planned to be finished this summer.

Project goals are to stabilize severely eroding banks, provide in-stream cover, and increase spawning habitat for trout in this section of the Trimbelle. The reshaping and sloping of steep, eroded banks will help accomplish this. Long-lived tree species to remain where possible while tapering stream banks.

Banks will be stabilized with prairie grasses and in-stream habitat will be provided by lunker structures, plunge-pools and boulder clusters strategically placed within the stream. Where suitable, narrowing, deepening and speeding up current using proven techniques and lunker structures will be added to provide cover from predators and refuge during flood stage. These structures will be covered with rock and soil, and then reseeded to stabilize the banks. Plunge pools will also be installed to create deep water and over winter habitat.

DNT fisheries biologist Marty Engel said the addition of bank and other overhead cover, along with increased depth, will provide outstanding adult fish habitat.

"Overall, restoration of this stretch of stream will result in restoring natural reproducing trout populations, improved fishing access and fishability," he said.

With stream restoration and other improvements in this section, Engel indicated that attainable use potential for the Trimbelle could move from Class 2 to Class 1 water, reducing the need for stocking of non-wild trout in this section.