As we enter the season of hoppers and terrestrials, we received some sad news about a major fish kill in southeastern Minnesota. The exact cause is still under investigation, but we have a pretty good idea of the cause. Toxic chemicals. By the time officials found out about the kill, the chemicals were most likely in the Mississippi River.
What can we as Streamkeepers and TCTU members do? My friend biologist Kent Johnson has a few ideas. Below are some of his thoughts about buffer zones helping preventing fish kill.
Using the map, Streamkeepers and TCTU could make and record measurements of existing buffer widths (and vegetation types?) along your targeted streams. Feedback from anglers on where buffer implementation has been successful could be very helpful. Note that buffer requirements also apply on private property, so care would be needed as to where you measure (unless you request permission from private landowners).
Crops that provide continuous living ground cover (cover crops) (https://greenlandsbluewaters.org/) are a growing tool to offset some of the water quality impacts of traditional corn-soybean agriculture. There needs to be a market for these crops, to create an incentive for ag producers to plant them. Kernza is a good example of how this is happening (https://perennial-pantry.com/). We've been buying Perennial Pantry's products and using their recipes. We can help spread the word...
Thank you to Kent for his thoughts on this important topic!
Fish kills continue to be a problem in both Minnesota and Wisconsin streams. There are some proactive steps that we can take to help protect our streams and our fishery. When violators and perpetrators are discovered, there needs to be severe consequences. And of course, this is a risky game for us as well, since there is always the possibility that humans may accidentally consume some of these contaminants and pollutants in water and beyond.
On the lighter side…
Recently while driving on Interstate 94 near the Dells, we spotted a Red Tail Hawk soaring. As I often do, I immediately watched the hawk while cruising at the approximate speed of 70 mph. While admiring the beauty of effortless flight, the hawk bombed the roof of our car from about 1000 feet. This was a very spectacular aerial display!
TARGETED STREAMKEEPER REPORTS
MOA Creek, Harold Slawik
Jim Sauter and I met with representatives of US Fish & Wildlife and the Minnesota DNR at MOA Creek in July. Both were very supportive of TU’s stream monitoring and filled us in on some of the stream’s conservation history. We learned that Cargill is currently sponsoring a long-term chloride monitoring program on the stream. Levels are elevated but aren’t affecting the fish as yet. The chloride is attributed to road salt. We have parking lots and roadways real close to the springs and upper watershed.
The water temperature is up to 63. Water levels remain good and the stream is running clear.
HAY CREEK, Mike Stinson
July 28, 2022. Phosphorous= 0. Temperature= 61 degrees.
Nitrite and Nitrate were both high yesterday. Streams clear as a bell and saw rises and saw trout. My caddis did not catch a fish. Hoppers were all over and I chummed the water with a few hand caught. They were lucky and swam back to shore.
I did take photos of the buffer zone on two different parts of the stream. The first it is clear there is a nice 30 to 50 foot buffer. The 2nd not so obvious. The farmer grazes his cattle on this section of the creek. It does not appear is is intense grazing but enough to show the difference. These sections of the creek are about one mile apart.
BELLE CREEK, Dean Albrecht
July 7, 2022. Phosphorous= 100. Temperature= 65 degrees.
TROUT BROOK, Matthew Lowe
July 24, 2022. Phosphorous= 0. Temperature= 53 degrees.
SOUTH BRANCH VERMILLION, Thomas Walkington
We got measurements on SBV and South Creek before it starting raining. SBV was warm, 70d. Water level remains low though that May change after the rain. Other readings were mostly in yellow! South Creek was all good. water temp was 61.
EAGLE CREEK, Paul Frank
July 20, 2022