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Table Rock Lake Watershed Fish Habitat Pilot Project[Part_1]

In this segment of KSMU's Sense of Community series, Michele Skalicky reports on a project underway at Table Rock Lake and its watershed that aims to enhance the fish population in the lake and Lake Taneycomo.

Thousands of people swarm to Table Rock Lake each year to swim, water ski, camp and, of course, try their luck at fishing. It's for that reason among others that the lake was chosen to be the pilot project for an effort by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, federal and state agencies and conservation and angling organizations to protect, enhance and restore abundant and healthy populations of fish and aquatic species in US waters.

As part of the National Fish Habitat Action Plan, and with Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World as the first corporate sponsor, the Foundation launched the "More Fish Campaign" to help raise awareness and funding for enhancing and restoring the nation's fish and aquatic species.

The "More Fish" grant programs invest in on-the-ground projects that demonstrate innovative approaches to fish habitat conservation.

Bass Pro has committed 1 and a half million dollars over the next 5 years, which will be matched 2 to 1 by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and its partners including the US Fish and Wildlife Service, The MO Dept. of Conservation and the Arkansas Fish and Game Commission for a total of 4.5 million to fund the Table Rock Lake pilot project.

Matt Mauck is fisheries management biologist for the MO Dept. of Conservation. He says the project consists of three primary parts: in-lake work, some work in the watershed and some work in the tail water.

Within the watershed, the Dept. of Conservation plans to work with landowners and communities to stabilize some highly erosive stream banks and to improve riparian corridors. They'll work with James River Basin Partnership and Table Rock Lake Water Quality, Inc. to help combat some of the non-point nutrient sources that affect the lake, including utilizing the septic pumpout program.

Several years ago a feasibility study was done to look at best ways to improve Dissolved Oxygen levels within Lake Taneycomo. It found that a 4-bay liquid oxygen diffuser in the lake would be the best technology to use for that purpose.

Mauck says one reason Table Rock Lake was chosen for the National Fish and Wildlife Service pilot project is because both it and Lake Taneycomo have tremendous fisheries.

The measures being taken are proactive, according to Mauck.

Another reason Table Rock Lake was chosen was because of the funding provided for the project by Bass Pro.

After all the work is complete, Mauck says they plan to evaluate the effectiveness of what they've done.

Matt Mauck says the pilot project should serve as a model for the rest of the nation. Like many lakes across the country, Table Rock is an aging reservoir—approximately 50 years post impoundment. While there used to be a lot of fish habitat in the lake, he says, it continues to deteriorate.

The MO Dept. of Conservation has hired a project specific term fisheries biologist and support staff to work on the day-to-day implementation of the project. They'll conduct site visits with landowners in the watershed and make sure that everyone who would like to be part of the project is able to come onboard. They'll also handle brush pile and stump field installation within the lake.

The project is expected to last five years—it will wrap up in 2012. This afternoon at 4:30, we'll take you out on a barge Bass Pro designed and donated specifically for the project and talk with Shane Bush, the fisheries biologist who's working on the project in Taney County.

The SOC programs are available on the web at ksmu.org. For KSMU, I'm Michele Skalicky.

Links:

  • Missouri Conservation Department