A new culvert properly designed and positioned in the un-named Class I Trout stream, restored trout migration, stream sediment transport and water drainage through the Waushara County Lake Drive road crossing. DNR specified the design, and Waushara Highway Department installed it. TU CARES invested $25,000 in a collaboration with the Town of Wautoma for the mutual benefit of trout, highway maintenance and water passage at a reduced cost to local taxpayers. DNR fisheries sampled trout populations demonstrating the importance of this stream to the West Branch of the White River fishery.
This project started a number of years ago, when John Tucker and Scott Bahn, Central Wis Trout Unlimited, brought the culvert problem to the attention of DNR and TU CARES (Trout Unlimited Central Area Restoration Effort for Sustainability), a regional Trout Unlimited organization. Their concern was that trout movement through the road crossing was interrupted by the type and position of the aging culvert. Analysis of the situation by Bobbi Jo Fisher and Brad Betthauser (DNR) and TU CARES verified that water flow through culvert was poor and inadequate to accommodate the increased rainfall patterns of recent years.
Scott Bunde (DNR) conducted a fisheries survey that showed the stream has a significant brook and brown trout population. Based on the knowledge that trout migrate throughout streams they occupy, the risk to the trout population was clarified, especially during periods of low water and when trout swim to areas of shelter, feeding and spawning.
TU CARES and DNR met with the Jeff Nett (Town of Wautoma) to develop a plan for improving the Lake Drive road crossing. The objectives were to design and install a culvert shaped and sized to enable the stream to function normally for passage of water and sediment through the road crossing thereby maintaining the long-term integrity of the road bed while creating a natural migration route for trout. DNR surveyed the site and designed the culvert and placement criteria, while TU CARES obtained a $25,000 grant from the Community Foundation of the Fox Valley and Nett arranged for the Waushara Highway Dept to do the installation.
The project was delayed in 2019 by weather conditions and completed last week by the diligent work of Brian Friemark’s Waushara Highway Dept. crew. The crew did an outstanding job diverting the stream flow while surveying to establish a deeper bed for the new culvert, removed the aged and corroded culvert, added fill to road level and contoured, stabilized and seeded the road slope. Paving of the road surface will occur at a later date (also note the good work they conducted installing an improved culvert under Highway C further upstream on this trout creek).
Shawn Sullivan’s DNR Wild Rose Trout Habitat Management Team and TU CARES will monitor the recovery of the stream over the next year and will take steps as necessary to enhance trout habitat and improve angler and public access to the stream.
This project was possible to achieve because of the collaborative efforts of many organizations and individuals. Some of the benefits are for trout and people who love them, improved water drainage, long-term highway maintenance and a better access and view of a regional trout stream, all at a reduced cost to local taxpayers. The un-named Class I trout stream is an important source of cold spring water to the South Branch of the White River.
The South Branch of the White River and the White River, into which it flows, is home to one of the best trout populations in Central Wisconsin. A fishery of this kind is uncommon within Wisconsin since all three trout species, the brook, the brown and the rainbow, have self-sustaining populations within these waters. Investment of time, resources and passion is preserving this unique local treasure for our future generations.