The Green Lake Association’s (GLA) restoration efforts at Dakin Creek took another step forward this week.
Volunteers from the Green Lake Community and High School Thursday accompanied staff from the GLA, DNR and Green Lake County Land Conservation Department in restoring one of the few trout streams in the Big Green Lake watershed. Another restoration project will take place on Thursday, May 19.
The volunteers were part of a larger project to bring brook trout back to Dakin Creek, according to Green Lake Association executive director Stephanie Prellwitz.
“They are working to shore up the erosion of streams, move trees [and] move the rocks around to help divert the flow,” Prellwitz said. “This is all an effort to protect the creek to reduce nutrient loading and create habitat for brook trout.”
Dakin Creek is one of eight streams that flow into Green Lake, serving as a direct conduit for nutrient pollution, she explained.
The GLA works to reduce the amount of phosphorus that goes to Green Lake because phosphorus negatively impacts water quality.
“To do that, we have to look upstream to the areas that head into Green Lake,” Prellwitz said. “Streams themselves can serve as sources of phosphorus pollution because all stream erosion contains phosphorus.”
Stream restoration projects help reduce erosion as a method of cleaning up Big Green Lake, which is why the GLA has dedicated one of its three pillar projects, Project Clean Streams, to restoration. local waterways.
The Dakin Creek restoration project began several years ago because there hadn’t been brook trout in the creek since 1950, Prellwitz said.
She explained that a culvert was perched on Skunk Hollow Road, creating a man-made waterfall over the creek, which negatively impacted brook trout.
“It turns out the brook trout just can’t jump and have to go upstream to spawn, which served as a stop sign for them,” Prellwitz said. “They couldn’t go any further.”
Because of this habitat loss, brook trout populations have declined and they have disappeared from Dakin Creek.
A few years ago, the GLA worked with the DNR and the City of Brooklyn to replace the Skunk Hollow Road culvert, lowering it into the creek.
“It opened up Dakin Creek, once again, for brook trout spawning,” Prellwitz said. “It also served as a pollution control measure, because this man-made waterfall had dug a hole five feet deep on the downstream side of the culvert, so all of this sediment was flowing into Green Lake. This has been a multi-year effort, working with DNR professionals and working with volunteers. »
For the past three years, brook trout have been stocked at Dakin Creek and, according to the DNR, the fish are “thriving”, the GLA executive director added.
“Brook trout are the canary in the coal mine – they’re very sensitive to nutrient pollution, so one way for us to determine how our efforts are going is to see how the fish are doing,” Prellwitz said. . “The fact that they are thriving in Dakin Creek is a good sign, but it also means we need to keep protecting this creek.”
One of the ways to protect the watercourse is to ensure that land flowing into Dakin Creek does not serve as a source of nutrient pollution.
GLA volunteers worked Thursday on the portion of Dakin Creek near the Skunk Hollow culvert, while May 19 restoration will focus on a portion of the creek near Brooklyn G Road.
Prellwitz noted that past efforts have generally been further downstream than Brooklyn’s G-zone, but the May 19 event gives the GLA a chance to focus on a more upstream section of the creek.
“It will be a similar job [as the Thursday restoration]but this is new territory,” Prellwitz said.
Additionally, the GLA collected old evergreen Christmas tree donations from the community several years ago, which are now being repurposed as a buffer, or “armor,” for the sides of the streams, the director added. of the GLA.
To register to participate in the restoration project of the May 19 stream, click on here.