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Lake Conservation Webinar Series: Woody Habitat Science and Restoration Implementation – The Wisconsin Experience
Greg Sass will first discuss the science of woody habitat. Inland lake fish structural habitat additions (coarse woody habitat (CWH), “fish sticks”, tree drops) have increased in popularity over time; however, most enhancements have not been treated as deliberate experiments to test for fish and aquatic ecosystem responses. Whole-lake CWH removal studies have shown reductions in fish growth rates, declines in forage fish abundance, and changes in behavior. Whole-lake CWH addition studies have shown improved reproductive output of certain fishes, increased availability and diversity of prey available to fishes, and influenced behavior and habitat use. Key uncertainties identified in previous CWH addition studies include: (1) does CWH increase fish production?; (2) does CWH influence certain fish species differently?; (3) does CWH influence fish populations in larger lakes?; and (4) how does CWH influence fish populations over longer periods of time? To address these unknowns, a whole lake CWH addition experiment was started in 2015 on Sanford Lake in Northern Wisconsin. Greg will discuss this study and share initial findings. Scott Toshner will then discuss implementation of CWH additions in Wisconsin. The modern-day iterations of CWH additions to the littoral zone of inland lakes started in 2008 as a management technique to restore woody habitat. The main impetus was the loss of woody habitat that had been observed in several studies as a result of shoreline development. Scott will share his experiences working with others to develop tools in the form of streamlined permitting, best practices manual and website along with practical implementation lessons learned. These include assessing sites for placing fish sticks and techniques used while working with local lake associations, conservation groups, and local units of government. The most interesting facet of implementing these projects has been the social norms that have been changed along the way.

Feb 25, 2020 01:00 PM in Central Time (US and Canada)

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Speakers

Dr. Greg Sass
Fisheries Research Team Leader @Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
Greg Sass earned his B.S. in Biology from the University of South Florida in 1999. He earned his M.S. and Ph.D. in Zoology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2001 and 2004, respectively. After two years of post-doctoral research with Steve Carpenter and Jim Kitchell at the UW-Madison, Center for Limnology during 2004-2006, Greg was the Director of the Illinois River Biological Station with the Illinois Natural History Survey from 2006-2011. Following stints as a northern lakes fisheries research scientist and northern unit fisheries research supervisor with the Wisconsin DNR, Greg currently is the statewide supervisor of fisheries research with the Wisconsin DNR and the director of the Escanaba Lake Research Station and Northern Highland Fisheries Research Area. He also holds an honorary fellowship with the UW-Madison, Center for Limnology and adjunct professorships at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and University of Minnesota-Duluth.
Scott Toshner
Fisheries Biologist @Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
Scott earned his B.S. in Biology from UW Eau Claire in 1994. Scott started his WDNR career in southeast WI as an LTE, first working out of the research office in Madison in 1994, then in the Milwaukee area for water resources until 1998. He worked as a water resources biologist for WDNR out the Milwaukee office from 1998 until 2001, mostly performing stream fisheries surveys and with aquatic plant management in lakes. In 2001, Scott was hired as the fisheries biologist out of Brule working the inland waters of Douglas and Bayfield Counties. During his time in Brule, Scott worked on typical fisheries issues as well as helping to develop Fish Sticks as an in-water habitat restoration practice, and fish passage issues on trout streams. He currently serves as Fisheries Supervisor for the Spooner Area Fish Team which covers seven counties in the northwest part of WI.