Conservation

Smallmouth Bass Study on the St. Joe River

Our friends at the SJRVFF have contributed to a IDNR study of smallmouth bass in the St. Joe River. If  you fish this river and catch a Smallie look for a tag, you could win prizes for calling in the tag information. Check this page for more details.

River Project

LECTU
May 14, 2013

Attention Little Elkhart Chapter Members and Friends of:

The Little Elkhart Chapter of Trout Unlimited is embarking on a an aggressive stream habitat restoration project in conjunction with River Tenders Inc. and the Middlebury Park Department at Riverbend Park in Middlebury. The project includes placement of multiple “Lunker Structures” for trout habitat and rock and stone for bank stabilization.

A Lunker Structure is a wooden pallet made out of white oak. These boxes are 6 to 8 feet in length 4 feet wide and 10 inches deep. Each structure weighs several hundred pounds. The structure is placed on the bottom to emulate an undercut bank. The structure is then anchored with rebar and covered with rock and stone.

The project has cleared all phases of permitting; all materials have been stockpiled and are ready to go. Our role in this project is providing the manpower to assist in the restoration construction. Once this project has been completed it is our hope that this restoration will serve as a showcase example of what can be done to stabilize stream banks in a trout friendly manner.

This notice serves as an invitation and a call out for your assistance. We need volunteers to make this project a success. We have duties for everyone, whether you are a young body builder capable of lifting heavy stones or feeble and elderly delivering water bottles to the laborers we can use your help.

The project is scheduled for June 1, 8 and 9. We plan to get started at around 8:30 to 9:00 am and end in the afternoon. We will be meeting at Riverbend Park, 511 E. Warren St. Middlebury, IN. You, of course being a volunteer, are at liberty to come and go as required. Any assistance you can provide would be appreciated, even if it is only part of one day. A lunch will be provided in the early afternoon. All you need to bring is an old pair of work waders and some gloves that are suited for working wet. All other tools and equipment will be provided.

This type of river work is an enjoyable experience. The camaraderie built working alongside other folks with like minded results is truly a reward. The creation of trout habitat will pay dividends long into the future not only for us but for those who follow in our footsteps.

You are free to invite (recruit) guests to come along and help. If you have some strong young bucks that are willing to help, we could use them. Bring a buddy, a neighbor, or an entire football squad because this is going to be quite an undertaking.

Questions or concerns pertaining to the project should be directed to Mike Beachy, cell phone (574)596-4929 or e-mail beach@bnin.net.

I thank you in advance-

Mike Beachy
LECTU President

Little Elkhart Chapter Trout Unlimited
17585 Ireland Road
South Bend, IN 46614

Stream Cleanup – Saturday September 15

Saturday will be our last work session on the Little Elkhart River for this year. We will be attempting to rearrange a cogged section of the river where multiple trees have fallen over the past several years. The plan is to cut the dead falls into logs that will then be placed and secured in a trout friendly manner. Permission from the property owner has been secured but we need as much help as possible to accomplish the desired work. If you are available Saturday morning and would like to play in the water a couple hours, we could use your assistance. Meet at River Bend Park in Middlebury at 8:00 am Saturday and we will head to the work site from there. Bring work gloves, and wear old waders. Poison ivy abounds at this location as do mosquitoes so be prepared. We will be working in the river. Bring your waders, water, gloves, garden rake, bug spray and long sleeves. Bring friends.

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Stream Cleanup – 8:00am Riverbend Park (Map)

June 16 Stream Clean Up

Clearing a log jamLECTU has scheduled four Stream Cleanup work days this summer. Our goal is to move log jams out of the main channel of the river to keep the water moving and cool. This provides better habitat for the trout that we are trying to protect. The more volunteers we get the more we can accomplish. I would like to start to spread out and tackle areas outside the catch and release section in the coming years. We need help in identifying problem areas, securing permission from property owners and volunteers to work on improvement projects. If we continue to work as a team I believe we can accomplish a lot. Please consider volunteering some of your time this summer to help LECTU make a difference for the river and for the trout.

Our first stream cleanup will be a combined effort with help from the SJRVFF. We are planning a fish habitat restoration project on the Little Elkhart River at CR. 43 just southeast of Middlebury in Elkhart County. The project will involve cutting, moving, cabling and placing trees in-stream and installing 1/2 log habitat structures through out the stream to provide habitat and holding structure for trout. You may want to bring a pair of gloves, a rake, bug spray, waders or old tennis shoes and long pants for wet wadding.

We encourage everyone to take part in these projects even if you don’t feel like you are physically able to dunk into the water and pull out logs we could use your assistance handing us tools from the bank, tossing us a water bottle or simply cheering us on. Work days are always fun and it is a great way to learn the river. The more help we have the more we can accomplish on this joint project with the St. Joe River Valley Fly Fishers. The project should wrap up about noon, beverages and lunch will be provided.

Stream Cleanup – 8:00am CR 43 Bridge (Map)
We will be working in the river. Bring your waders, water, gloves, garden rake, bug spray and long sleeves.

Dave Arrington to Present at December Meeting

Meeting Notice
Little Elkhart Chapter of Trout Unlimited
Wednesday , December 14 at 7:00 P.M. at the Middlebury Public Library
Map: http://tinyurl.com/2tygvg
At the December 14h chapter meeting Dave Arrington will speak to LECTU members. Dave is the President of LGL Natural Resource Associates and a senior wildlife ecologist. He is in charge of putting together a watershed management plan for the Little Elkhart River drainage system and then implementing best management practices. Please join us to hear an update on the progress of the Little Elkhart watershed.
Dave’s project started in 2005 with water quality testing and a land use inventory. Dave and his crew test the water quality in a variety of ways however it is the automated sampling machine that can give him data every two minutes and is recorded on a computer. The auto sampler is a very effective way to monitor the water quality and the changes it goes through during a high water event.
Dave explained that the major problem with the water quality of the Little Elkhart River is directly attributed to livestock and farming practices. The Little Elkhart River contains levels of phosphorous, nitrates and E-coli that are far above target levels. Manure run off during high water events confirms these findings.
Sediment levels in the Little Elkhart River elevate drastically during high water run off due to live stock having direct access to the river proper and the ditches that feed the river. The livestock will trample the banks causing erosion and sedimentation run off. This sedimentation of the river covers the rocks and gravel inhibiting bug life that are key to trout survival.
Dave has identified the major sources of these problems and is now in the restoration phase of the project. In his presentation Dave showed photographs of a barnyard before and after a restoration. The creek was fenced off 20 feet from the waters edge, preventing cattle direct access. Seasonal grasses were planted in the buffer to build up a natural filter between the pasture and the creek. A crossing was then constructed with fencing and lined with stones. Cattle do not like to stand on the stones and will prevent the livestock from standing directly in the water, as they often do in the heat of the summer. The stone prevents sediments from running into the creek during rains and keeps the banks intact on either side.
Dave has his work cut out for him. In the headwater area alone he has identified over fifteen miles of river and creek that will require fencing improvements like he outlined. Thanks to Dave and the Soil and Water Conservation Districts of LaGrange and Elkhart Counties our home waters will see water quality improvements that will have a lasting effect.

An Open Letter from the Anglers of the AuSable

July 20, 2011

Dear Fly Fishing Club Leader,

By working together, the Michigan fly fishing community has an opportunity to better understand some of our most prized rivers and stay in front of emerging threats to coldwater streams and trout populations. We are writing to ask for your financial assistance to fund a major, two year study of temperatures, flow rates and water chemistry on the Upper Manistee and Au Sable Rivers and their tributaries.

In June, the Anglers of the Au Sable board of directors approved a major investment in water quality monitoring on the Au Sable and Upper Manistee rivers. This two-year project will help scientists, regulators and anglers clearly document the state of our rivers today – at the dawn of a potential boom in new and intensive oil and gas development in northern Michigan. This research, performed by some of the top geologists in state, will also provide DNR fisheries biologists with a wealth of new data to better understand and improve our coldwater fisheries – even in the face of deep budget cuts within the department.

To pull this off, we could really use your help.

Fracking Controversy Nationwide

Over the past year, the Anglers of the Au Sable have worked to gain a better understanding of “fracking” – a controversial method of extracting natural gas from deep reserves previously unreachable by traditional drilling methods. For more information about some of these critical issues read Riverwatch Issue 60 on our website, ausableanglers.org.

In short, hydraulically fractured gas wells are the subject of numerous conservation and public health debates across the country. Fluids used to extract shale gas from deep formations contain toxic chemicals; the ensuing migration of methane gas through rock fissures is suspected for outbreaks of contaminated drinking wells; and isolated cases of fluid spills have directly contaminated rivers.

The state of New York imposed a temporary moratorium on fracking in 2010. The state of Arkansas imposed a moratorium earlier this year after numerous earthquakes raised concerns that the fracking of deep shale wells was causing abnormal seismic activity. And in April 2011, Chesapeake Energy — one of the nation’s largest producers of natural gas — temporarily halted
all fracking operations in Pennsylvania after one of its deep shale wells suffered a spill that polluted a nearby stream. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has launched a comprehensive study of the environmental impact of fracking. That study may not be completed until at least 2012.

New Urgency in Michigan

In Michigan, one of the most acute concerns with fracking is large-scale withdrawal of groundwater. The Au Sable and Manistee rivers rely on groundwater for their consistent, cold-water flows. It takes five million gallons or more of groundwater to drill a “fracked” gas well. That’s 100 times more water than each of the traditional Antrim Shale wells that have dotted the northern Michigan landscape over the past 50 years. And, this withdrawal takes place “up front” during the process, so while the effects may be temporary, they may be severe when the withdrawal is taking place.

As of early May, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality had issued 18 permits to drill hydraulically fracked wells for natural gas in the Utica-Collingwood formation in northern Michigan. Another 12 permit applications were pending. One of those wells was within a couple miles of the headwaters of the Manistee River.

The upper Au Sable River and Upper Manistee watersheds sit atop some of Michigan’s thickest deposits of Utica-Collingwood shale, and the watersheds may see considerable fracking-related development in future years. In two auction cycles in 2010, oil and gas companies paid nearly $200 million for state-owned mineral leases on more than 120,000 acres across northern Michigan. That sum equaled the total lease revenue to the state over the past eight decades. In October 2010, for example, one firm spent $1 million to acquire drilling rights on more than 33,000 acres within the Au Sable watershed near Grayling. Because shale gas in the Utica-Collingwood formation is found at a depth of 10,000 feet, all of the wells drilled into that layer of gas will use the fracking technique.

Our Answer: Document River Conditions Now

The long-term potential impacts of additional development, including fracking, on cold water trout fisheries are largely unknown.

At our June board meeting, Anglers approved Part 1 of a comprehensive, two-year water quality monitoring study on the Au Sable and the Upper Manistee. Conducted by Dr. David Hyndman, the chair of the geology department at Michigan State University, this study will place advanced temperature and flow gauges at 40 locations on those two rivers. The result will be a detailed portrait of river conditions before any fracking rush is fully underway. If fracking takes off and river flows are impacted, we seek to have clear evidence to urge regulators and industry to prevent any degradation of our world-class fisheries.

In addition, regarding Part 2 of the study, we are in the planning stages of a water chemistry study of the same waters. If finances permit, this will take place over the same period of time. Patterned after similar work in Pennsylvania, the chemical analysis will allow us to detect potential future chemical impacts in the rivers from fracking.

We Need Your Help to Keep Watch Over Rivers

The Au Sable-Manistee monitoring study is patterned after a similar approach led by local Trout Unlimited chapters in Pennsylvania, where the fracking controversy is in full bloom. In Michigan, our monitoring techniques are scalable, meaning we can eventually add detailed chemical analysis and more river systems to the project if additional funds are available. We plan to share all data with state biologists to enhance further understanding of the fisheries.

None of this is cheap. The cost of Part 1, the Au Sable-Manistee temperature and flow study, is $96,000. That’s a huge expense for any nonprofit. But we view it as crucial. An investment of up to $5,000 from your Club would go a long way to help the Anglers cover these significant river protection expenses.

We welcome your feedback on this project and the rest of Anglers’ ongoing conservation work.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Tom Baird
Vice President – Anglers of the Au Sable
Chairman – Anglers of the Au Sable Oil & Gas Committee

Terry Lyons
Chairman -Anglers of the AuSable Resource Agency Committee
VP Conservation, GLC, FFF

2011 River Clean Up Projects

LECTU will be holding four workdays this summer. The focus of the clean up is to open up the main river channel and clean out some of the logjams that impede the flow of the river. The logjam clean out accomplishes several objectives.

We need volunteers to assist in these projects. The camaraderie is good and we always have a blast. I would encourage you to come and help out. Bring someone with you especially if they are young and strong. The work may be hard but the rewards can be fulfilling. It is a great way to get to know the river and it’s secret spots. It will make you a better fisherman once you are in tune with the river.

We meet at Riverbend Park in Middlebury at 8:00 am for all work days. You will need to come ready to get in the water. Waders and bug spray is a must. I would recommend a garden rake and some rubberized gloves.

2011 Work Days:
June 11 8:00 am
July 23 8:00 am
August 13 8:00 am
September TBD 8:00 am

Map and more details

Dave Arrington to Present a Program

Dave Arrington Ph. D. is the president of LGL Natural Resources Associates and a senior wildlife ecologist. LGL Natural Resources has been contracted through La Grange County Soil and Water Conservation District to formulate and implement a Watershed Management Plan for the Little Elkhart River drainage system.

Dave’s study and focus is on water quality. He and his team are now in the implementation stage of “best management practices” in an effort to protect the river from contaminates such as siltation and pollution. Large amounts of grant monies have been utilized to protect the Little Elkhart River and a lot of data has been gathered and processed in this effort.

Point sources of contaminants have been identified and are being addressed. Correction of these issues has lead to cleaner water in the Little Elkhart River and it’s feeder streams. These improvements will equate to better habitat for our trout.

Dave is going to address our chapter at our December 8th Wednesday evening LECTU meeting. Dave will present his latest findings and outline the project’s future as they work their way down stream from the headwaters. Dave’s presentation is always interesting and informative. His work is crucial to our chapter’s mission and goals.

This is a meeting you do not want to miss if you want to know what is going on in the Little Elkhart River and what improvements are being made in the water quality of our home waters. The chapter meets at 7:00pm the second Wednesday of each month at the Middlebury Library.

Little Elkhart River Clean Up Project

LECTU will be continuing our River Clean Up Project this Saturday July, 17. We will meet at Riverbend Park in Middlebury (Map) at 8:00am and work for three to four hours.Clearing a log jam

The focus of the clean up is to open up the main river channel and clean out some of the logjams that impede the flow of the river. The logjam clean out accomplishes several objectives.

By opening the flow of the river, water is allowed to flow more freely. Moving water creates oxygen and prevents warming that occurs when water is backed up. Moving water will help scour the bottom creating more trout habitat. Opening flow through areas help make log jams more fishable by removing snags. The debris that are removed from the log jams are then either discarded up on the bank or rearranged to narrow the river and deflect flow creating more trout habitat. Legally all work has to be done by hand and using hand tools only otherwise permits have to be secured. Many times the logs that require moving are heavy and require several guys to accomplish the task.

We need volunteers to assist in this project. The camaraderie is good and we always have a blast. I would encourage you to come and help out. Bring someone with you especially if they are young and strong. The work may be hard but the rewards can be fulfilling. It is a great way to get to know the river and it’s secret spots. It will make you a better fisherman once you are in tune with the river.

You will need to come ready to get in the water. Waders and bug spray is a must. I would recommend a garden rake, drinking water, rubberized gloves, and long sleeves.

In the event of pouring rain or lightning we will not work on the stream.

Little Elkhart River Clean Up Project

LECTU will be starting our River Clean Up Project this Saturday June, 19. We will meet at Riverbend Park in Middlebury (Map) at 8:00am and work for three to four hours.

The focus of the clean up is to open up the main river channel and clean out some of the logjams that impede the flow of the river. The logjam clean out accomplishes several objectives.

By opening the flow of the river, water is allowed to flow more freely. Moving water creates oxygen and prevents warming that occurs when water is backed up. Moving water will help scour the bottom creating more trout habitat. Opening flow through areas help make log jams more fishable by removing snags. The debris that are removed from the log jams are then either discarded up on the bank or rearranged to narrow the river and deflect flow creating more trout habitat. Legally all work has to be done by hand and using hand tools only otherwise permits have to be secured. Many times the logs that require moving are heavy and require several guys to accomplish the task.

We need volunteers to assist in this project. The camaraderie is good and we always have a blast. I would encourage you to come and help out. Bring someone with you especially if they are young and strong. The work may be hard but the rewards can be fulfilling. It is a great way to get to know the river and it’s secret spots. It will make you a better fisherman once you are in tune with the river.

You will need to come ready to get in the water. Waders and bug spray is a must. I would recommend a garden rake and some rubberized gloves.