By Scott SturkolJuly 10, 2018
Throughout the past decade, Fort McCoy has collaborated with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to improve waterways, water quality, stream structure, and more.
These are all efforts that also improve habitat for fish throughout post, and more work is planned for 2018, said Fisheries Biologist John Noble with the Directorate of Public Works Environmental Division Natural Resources Branch.
"There will be work completed at several areas this year," Noble said. "There has been a lot of stream-improvement work completed here in the past that has helped improve the streams and fish habitat. This year's work will continue that effort."
Five years ago, in 2013, work was completed on several barrier removal and stream-improvement projects along Ash Run and Tarr Creek in the Fort McCoy cantonment area, Noble said. In 2014, work was completed along Suukjak Sep Creek near Pine View Campground and along Stillwell Creek on South Post.
In 2015, a large project was completed on North Post to remove the Alderwood Dam and return the stream that fed into the dam to a more natural state. In 2017, a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) crew performed additional work at the former dam area to improve stream banks.
In 2017, the West Silver Wetland Dam, which was located on Fort McCoy's South Post near the Sparta-Fort McCoy Airport, was removed from Silver Creek. It was constructed in 1952. The structure required significant repair and was no longer beneficial.
For 2018, Noble said WDNR personnel will be back on post to complete stream-improvement work and continue bank stabilization work on Silver Creek near where the West Silver Wetland Dam once stood.
"As the improvements have been made, nature takes over," Noble said. "Brook trout and other fish species find more places to call home, extending the range of fish utilization."
Removal of barriers also improves fish movement and helps reduce flooding at some of the stream areas, Noble said.
"We expect this year's work to really pick up in July and August," Noble said.
Many of the projects to improve streams and other waterways at the installation are funded through cost sharing with the USFWS. Fisheries Biologist Louise Mauldin of the USFWS Onalaska, Wis., office visited Fort McCoy in October 2017 to see some of the work completed on post. During that visit, she said the work at Fort McCoy has been a good investment.
"We actually have two pots of money that we have used to help out with projects at Fort McCoy," Mauldin said. "This includes the Fish Passage Program, which helps with barrier removal, and the Driftless Area Restoration Effort Fish Habitat Partnership, which helps with stream restoration, bank stabilization, and other efforts."
Noble said the stream-improvement projects benefit trout anglers and offer many more opportunities.
"We have some big brook trout and brown trout in our streams," Noble said. "It's worth the effort to walk the banks of the streams and try for some trout at Fort McCoy."
Anglers must have the appropriate Fort McCoy permits and Wisconsin licenses to fish on post. This includes a general Wisconsin fishing license, a trout stamp if fishing for trout, and a Fort McCoy fishing permit. Learn more about fishing rules on post by visiting the Fort McCoy i-Sportsman website at https://ftmccoy.isportsman.net.
Once work on the 2018 projects is underway, Noble said he'll be monitoring the progress and will also continue to look at ways to improve other areas. "We are always looking to improve our waterways," he said.
Learn more about Fort McCoy online at www.mccoy.army.mil, on Facebook by searching "ftmccoy," and on Twitter by searching "usagmccoy."