The Oconto Falls Lions were waiting for Mother Nature to cooperate in the latest phase of their project to improve the fish habitat on the Oconto River above the dam in Oconto Falls. The dream of improving this valuable recreational resource began over a year ago. The first phase was implemented last April with the stocking nearly 6,000 perch fingerlings a few miles upstream from the dam. The second phase, which was finished last fall, involved the installation of a year around handicap accessible fishing dock just upstream from the East Side Beach in Oconto Falls. The latest phase involved the designing, construction, and placement of over a dozen fish cribs in strategic locations.
The entire project involved working hand in hand with the Wisconsin DNR to obtain the necessary permits to ensure that these efforts complied with all appropriate regulations. Lion Jim Damp shepherded the project as a goal in his final year as club president. He calculated that over 700 man hours were involved in the project through the three phases.
He noted that “None of this could have happened without a number of partners in this effort.” Among those partners were Gillett Cement donating 800 cement blocks; McDermid Transportation providing pallets and banding; OFHS Ag Department for construction of the cribs; local property owners who agreed to placement of the cribs beyond their shoreline; Luisier Drilling Inc. for donation of a pump at the dock, Hillberg Electric for installation power for the pump; City of Oconto Falls for access and a number of other enhancements; Fischer Concrete for the slab leading to the dock, Bear Magnin for transportation and placement of the cribs; Admax for signage; and financial contributions from ST Paper, Snow Jokers, and community members who purchased raffle tickets. There is a long list of others who helped with the project that go unnamed.
The club has a permit for construction and placement of additional cribs. It is hoped that can happen next year. The club was proud to be part of this community effort to provide additional recreational opportunities on the river.