October 25, 2005
Contact: Larry Doebert, Stream Project Manager, 920-876-2346
WASHINGTON – In mid-October, the national conservation organization Trout Unlimited (TU) received a Leopold Restoration Award for its work on the Onion River in east-central Wisconsin. In conjunction with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Inter-Fluve, Inc., Water Resources Consulting, and TU’s Lakeshore Chapter, the group was recognized for its “exemplary” efforts to restore the degraded creek to a thriving trout stream.
Mill Creek, at the headwaters of the Onion River in Sheboygan County, was once a notable cold water trout stream. However, when TU and its partners embarked upon their restoration project in 2002, no discernable stream existed and water quality was extremely poor. By taking an ecosystem approach, the Mill Creek project recreated a natural stream channel with a functioning floodplain and a forested wetland. These provide habitat for all stages of cold water fish, as well as birds, insects, and a host of other organisms.
“We are thrilled to receive this award, which acknowledges the important role that Trout Unlimited chapters play in their local communities,” said Laura Hewitt, Director of TU’s Watershed Program. “The members of the Lakeshore Chapter have helped restore a significant tributary of the Onion River, which improves water quality downstream and provides recreation opportunities for residents and visitors alike.”
“The TU Lakeshore Chapter’ s efforts to restore Mill Creek and Ben Nutt Creek have dramatically impacted the Onion River,” said Larry Doebert, Stream Project Manager. “We are already seeing clearer water, lower water temperatures, heightened yearly flows, and increased natural reproduction of wild brown trout. This goes a long way toward achieving our goal of restoring the Onion River to a quality, self-supporting wild trout fishery.”
The John Nolen award recognizes excellence in ecological restoration practices. It is granted annually by the Aldo Leopold Foundation and the Friends of the Arboretum, in support of the University of Wisconsin-Madison arboretum. The award includes a prize of $1,000, which will be used by the Lakeshore Chapter of TU to continue restoration work on the Onion River.