Big projects on tap in Driftless Area

Eroding streambanks on Mazeppa Creek in Minnesota will be restored by Trout Unlimited in the summer of 2024.

Several major restoration projects are on tap for the coming field season in the Driftless Area, one of Trout Unlimited’s Priority Waters. Here are several of the biggest efforts on tap 

Nohr Chapter – Snow Bottom Stream Improvement Project – Wisconsin 

The Nohr Chapter was awarded a Department of Natural Resources Surface Water Grant to improve a section of the Blue River that flows through the Snow Bottom State Natural Area in Grant County.   

The stream is a class II trout stream and is considered an exceptional water resource.   

About 4,200 feet of stream will be improved.  Streambanks will be sloped to improve access, remove brush, and improve flood carrying capacity.  Some sites will be rock riprapped to prevent soil erosion and fish habitat structures — including log deflectors, boulder clusters and escape logs — will be installed throughout.   

Two stream crossings will be installed to aid the DNR with property access and land management.  Construction is scheduled for mid-August of 2024.   

The project complements a previous Nohr Chapter project on the adjacent property, and both will combine for 1.3 miles of improved habitat when completed. 

North Bear Creek Phases 2 & 3 – Iowa 

TUDARE met with Iowa DNR, NRCS, and the Landowners of the North Bear Creek Projects in April and May to discuss the final details of the projects. 

The next phases are scheduled to begin in early June and will include improving fish and macro-invertebrate habitat, streambank stabilization, and installing a stream crossing that can be used by the DNR and landowners for maintenance.  

Some areas of the streambank will be sloped for improved access and erosion control. Habitat structures will include basking logs, boulder clusters, bank hides, root wads, and weirs.  

This project should be well received by the many anglers who visit the most utilized trout stream in Iowa. 

Patterson Creek – Iowa 

The Patterson Creek project is scheduled to begin in August/September of 2024.  

While some details are still being finalized, There are still details of this project to work on, the project is planned to include fish and macro-invertebrate habitat structures, streambank stabilization, and stream crossings that can be used by the landowner for the active cattle farm.  

TUDARE is working with the Iowa DNR, NRCS, and the Landowner to implement a rotational grazing program, with an alternative watering source to help ease the pressure on the trout stream. Stay tuned for more updates soon.  

Mazeppa Creek – Zumbro Falls, Minnesota 

This project on a DNR-eased stream east of Zumbro Falls, Minn., has been in the works for four years.  Construction is expected to commence in late May and will stabilize six long-eroding streambanks. 

Riffle structures will be installed to prevent streambed down-cutting and add diversity to the stream, which is also known as Trout Brook. 

Rootwads and boulder clusters will be incorporated throughout the project reach, which is 3,300 feet long. A native riparian seed mix will be planted along the streambanks.   

Funding for the project comes from MNTU, TUDARE the NRCS EQIP and RCPP programs and landowner contributions. 

By Mark Taylor. A native of rural southern Oregon, Mark Taylor has lived in Virginia since serving a stint as a ship-based naval officer in Norfolk. He joined the TU staff in 2014 after a 20-year run as a newspaper journalist, the final 16 as the outdoors editor of the Roanoke Times. A graduate of Northwestern University, he lives in Roanoke with his wife and, when they're home from college, his twin daughters.