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Success Story

Stream Habitat Conservation in Grant County, Wisconsin

A rain-swollen stream flows through farmland in La Crosse, Wisconsin on April 25, 2008.

Mary Stanek owns a 240‐acre farm just upstream from the confluence of the Blue River and Sixmile Branch in the northeast corner of Grant County, Wisconsin. These two river systems represent 15 years of partnership with NRCS, the Harry and Laura Nohr Chapter of Trout Unlimited and numerous local landowners.

Over twenty miles of stream  habitat work has been completed on these systems, providing  a bounty of recreational opportunities for the local residents and the many out‐of‐state tourists that frequent the area.

The Nohr chapter originally approached the Stanek family about pursuing a project. After consultation with the chapter’s habitat team and some local neighbors who had completed projects on their property, the family decided this was something they would like to see completed on their land.

Site conditions before the project were typical in this region: a stream choked with sediment and numerous tall eroding streambanks. These banks contributed tons of sediment into the systems each spring and after large rain events. The site was bordered on the northern side by abandoned pasture, which the Staneks had no intention of utilizing for grazing animals in the future. “This presented a unique opportunity, as the vast majority of our projects are bordered by working lands with future production in mind,” said Joe Schmelz, District Conservationist in Grant County.

The project include 2,100 feet of streambank stabilization, 2,500 feet of bank shaping and 28 stream habitat structures. It also included three large wetland scrapes, all roughly a half acre in size.

“We were really pleased with the project’s outcome and how the whole process was handled,” explained Mary. She has received many compliments from area residents and has noticed a real uptick in the amount of utilization on her stretch of the river.

Mary is looking forward to being able to sit on her porch and listen to the chorus of frogs that are now taking up residence in the newly constructed scrapes. She is proud to be able to leave the farm in a better state than when they found it, as her late husband, William, had always wanted.

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