Streambank Restoration at Decorah Fish Hatchery

A Small Project with Big Impact.

It all started with an idea to improve fish habitat and angler access along Trout Run, a popular fishery just south of Decorah.  It quickly developed into a partnership between the Iowa DNR, Trees Forever, Alliant Energy, Iowa’s Coldwater Conservancy (ICC), Friends of the Decorah Fish Hatchery, and the Iowa Driftless Chapter of Trout Unlimited. 

In 2016, Trout Run was the third most popular trout stream in the state hosting over 25,000 angler trips that year.  It is especially popular since it is stocked with catchable trout weekly from April through October, has a healthy population of wild Brown Trout, and has more universal angler access than any other stream in the state.  Over time, one section of Trout Run had become overgrown with undesirable trees and brush that offered very little wildlife benefit and limited angler access along the stream.

The project scope included clearing brush and reshaping the bank to a flatter slope before seeding down to native grasses and about 50 different wildflower species.  Wildlife-friendly trees were then planted along the project making the site a future haven for pollinators and wildlife.

Along the stream, trees that were originally removed from the site were recycled by burying their trunks in the bank but leaving their roots extending into the stream to provide cover for trout.  Prairie cordgrass plugs were also planted along the stream and once mature, will provide overhead cover to trout living in the stream 

After heavy construction work was completed, members of ICC and the Iowa Driftless Chapter of Trout Unlimited and other volunteers worked with Iowa DNR Fisheries staff to spread grass and wildflower seed, plant trees, and spread straw mulch on the entire site. wildflower seed, plant trees, and spread straw mulch on the entire site.  The area will be closed to anglers through the summer to 2019 to give ample time for the plants to become established.

Project costs totaled $7,156 and included over $2,500 in volunteer labor and over $930 of donated materials.  Trees Forever supported the project with a $2,000 Working Watersheds grant and the Friends of the Decorah Hatchery also provided financial support.  If you would like to support similar projects on other coldwater streams, contact Iowa’s Coldwater Conservancy today!