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Groups work to improve Straight River trout habitat

Crews spent the week helping to place tree structures in Straight River south of Park Rapids in order to improve the trout habitat. (Anna Erickson / Enterprise)1 / 2
A helicopter was used to transport trees to the river. (Anna Erickson / Enterprise)2 / 2

A collaborative effort will result in a better habitat for trout in the Straight River south of Park Rapids.

Minnesota Trout Unlimited, Straight River Trust Committee and Department of Natural Resources Fish and Wildlife and Forestry divisions spent this week placing structures made of trees in the river to move the water current.

Much of the funding comes from the state Legacy grant but each entity has contributed.

"The river is real slow and flat, which has caused sediment to drop," said Doug Kingsley, with the DNR Division of Fish and Wildlife.

As a result, the river has widened and the shoreline has been lost.

By placing structures made of several trees on each side of the river, the current will become quicker and deeper holes will be made, Kingsley said.

"The result is a better habitat for trout," he said.

According to the DNR, improved soil conservation techniques and reduced erosion mean cleaner water and more trout with less stocking. Trout populations fluctuate from year to year as floods and other factors affect natural reproduction.

Three other factors: growth, fishing pressure, and habitat also affect trout populations, especially the number of large trout, according to the DNR. Good growth and suitable habitat are needed for streams to support larger fish.

The hope is for this project to help the trout population in the Straight River.

A helicopter was used to get the trees to the river this week. The pilot picked up trees that had been previously cut and piled up from two locations near the river. Using radio communication he placed the trees in precise locations.

John Lenczewski, with Minnesota Trout Unlimited, said the project is a continuation of work done in 2006 further west along the river.

"The river is far wider than it should be and this will make it colder and deeper," he said.

Kingsley said results should be seen as quickly as this summer.

It will eventually result in better trout fishing along the Straight River, which runs from Osage to the Fish Hook River.

Anna Erickson
Anna Erickson is editor of the Wadena Pioneer Journal.
(218) 631-2561