Fort McCoy News July 25, 2014

WDNR secretary visits McCoy, views stream projects

STORY & PHOTO BY SCOTT T. STURKOL
Public Affairs Staff

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) Secretary Cathy Stepp made her first visit to Fort McCoy July 15 to learn more about the installation and view ongoing stream-improvement projects.

Photo for WDNR article
Fort McCoy Fisheries Biologist John Noble (left) discusses work completed along Tarr Creek in the post's cantonment area with Daniel Baumann, West Central Region director for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR); WDNR Secretary Cathy Stepp; Fort McCoy Directorate of Public Works (DPW) Director James Hamilton, and Mark McCarty, chief of the DPW Natural Resources Branch.

According to Fort McCoy Fisheries Biologist John Noble, the installation is completing fish barrier removal and stream habitat improvement projects with the assistance of the WDNR, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and local agency support.

"This was a chance for Secretary Stepp to see the work that has been done and continues to be done at Fort McCoy on improving our streams for trout and wildlife habitat," said Mark McCarty, chief of the Directorate of Public Works Natural Resources Branch (NRB).

Stepp's visit grew from a suggestion by Daniel Baumann, WDNR's West Central Region director, McCarty said.

"He's been following the projects closely with our staff and has seen the success," McCarty said.

Stepp's visit began with an overall briefing about Fort McCoy from garrison leadership. She visited two areas where fish barrier-removal and stream-restoration work has been done, to include removal of dams, barriers and culvert structures along Tarr Creek in the cantonment area.

Stepp also stopped at the Stillwell Creek stream-restoration site in South Post where WDNR crews were at work. "With the WDNR crews here, it was a perfect time for her to see how this work is accomplished," McCarty said.

The Fort McCoy stream-restoration projects support the areas of emphasis of both the WDNR and FWS, said Fisheries Biologist John Noble of the NRB. The projects improve fish passage to other parts of the streams and enhance overall trout habitat.

"These projects eventually will improve fishing opportunities for Fort McCoy," said Noble, who provided an overview about the projects to Stepp during her visit.

Stepp said her trip to Fort McCoy was well worth the effort.

"I am so thankful for the warm hospitality I was shown during my half-day visit to Fort McCoy," Stepp said.

"I saw the amazing partnerships between our DNR, ACOE (Army Corps of Engineers), and other conservation groups that are yielding positive results for future generations to enjoy," Stepp said. "The work being done demonstrates the commitment the leadership at Fort McCoy has to the conservation of Wisconsin's natural resources."

McCarty said the effort between all the agencies has been very successful.

"John (Noble) has done a lot of groundwork and coordination with numerous parties in establishing this collaborative process," McCarty said. "Now that we have a pathway in place, our hope is to take advantage of these gains and utilize this process again for future projects as we work with our WDNR and FWS partners."

Work on the stream restoration projects began in 2013 and will continue through this summer, McCarty said.

For more information about the stream restoration projects or fisheries information at Fort McCoy, call Noble at 608-388-5796.

For more about WDNR's work on fisheries habitat restoration, go online to http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/water.html.