Lions Promote Fish Habitat

Lion Jim Damp stands with a smile of pride and satisfaction as he thinks back to the progress made on the effort to enhance the habit for fish in the Oconto River. In the background are four of the cribs.

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.

It was a team effort as several Lions club members put finishing touches on the cribs. Placement was such that there would be a minimum of fourteen feet of water to the bottom of the riverbed. The background shows a few of the homes where owners gave permission for the placement.
This provides a close up view of the construction of the cribs. It was critical that the cribs be weighted down so that they would not move once they settled through the ice. The use of Christmas tree branches would provide protection for the perch fry and other fish once they hatched. The design was such that they would settle in upright because of less weight at the top of the crib.