Large Woody Debris Restores Whittlesey Creek

Project Summary: Placing logs and other large woody debris in Whittlesey Creek in Wisconsin has restored a more natural flow to the river and provided habitat for fish and wildlife.

Project Name: Whittlesey Creek Debris Project

Location: Ashland, Wisconsin

Description: Fallen trees and logs might not seem like a good thing to have in a creek, but they provide a valuable service for the

Workers position a log in the stream channel, which will help prevent sedimentation and provide habitat for fish and wildlife. Photo courtesy of Inter-Fluve, Inc.

Workers position a log in the stream channel, which will help prevent sedimentation and provide habitat for fish and wildlife. Photo courtesy of Inter-Fluve, Inc.

habitat. During heavy rains and floods, the wood gives shelter to aquatic life, catches and filters gravel and sediment, and creates a more complex flow of water with pools and riffles. Too much sediment was finding its way into the Whittlesey Creek, a tributary to the Chequamegon Bay of Lake Superior. Engineered log jams introduced to the creek in 2011 and 2012 helped restore natural habitat and filter sediment. The placement of the logs helped to increase the complexity of the channel, creating a variety of habitats for micro- and macroinvertebrates, such as crayfish, beetles, snails, and dragonfly larvae. Fish health is being monitored to understand which populations have benefited from the project.

Approximate Cost of the Project: $44,000 with some funding from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative

Logs placed at intervals throughout the stream collect other woody debris, adding to the complexity of the channel. Photo courtesy of Inter-Fluve, Inc.

Logs placed at intervals throughout the stream collect other woody debris, adding to the complexity of the channel. Photo courtesy of Inter-Fluve, Inc.

Resource Challenges Addressed: Lack of habitat for a variety of aquatic life, too much sediment build up throughout the river

Key Partners (Public and Private): Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Bayfield County Land and Water Conservation Department, Wisconsin DNR, Trout Unlimited, Northland College, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Youth Conservation Corps

Types of Jobs Created: Construction workers, heavy equipment operators, hydrologists, scientists, and general laborers

Results and Accomplishments: Adding 210 logs to the Whittlesey Creek has restored the streambed to a more natural state and created a variety of habitats. The addition of woody debris has filtered sediment, protected fish eggs, and stopped macroinvertebrates from being smothered. This debris has also allowed pools and riffles to form, expanding the type of habitat available to aquatic life.

Website: http://www.fws.gov/fieldnotes/regmap.cfm?arskey=14407

Originally Published: August 30, 2013

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