A meeting seeking input and suggestions concerning a pilot program focused on reservoir habitats and the health of their watersheds, drew the attention of many Table Rock fishing guides, business owners and local residents in October of 2007. The meeting, called by employees of the Missouri Department of Conservation, Shane Bush and Table Rock Lake fisheries biologist, Matt Mauck. was held at the Shepherd of the Hills fish hatchery.
The project involves local contractors who are removing trees from area lake developments. These contractors are giving the MDC team an opportunity to use the otherwise burnt trees or stumps for fish habitat.
One of the more unique aspects of this program is the cooperation level between MDC and the area construction contractors. In previous habitat projects, used and discarded Christmas trees were transported to the lake for "planting" or trees were cut along shorelines to make brush piles. For the first time, logs and stumps are also being used for strategic placement for fish habitat.
Shane, who operates the barge and constructs the brush piles, is also excited about the cooperation plus for the first time, rock piles can be made. Shane stated that the rock piles will be permanent and will produce immediate fish structure.
Other highlights of the meeting:
• Table Rock Lake has been chosen as the first pilot project focused on reservoir habitats and the health of their watersheds. Bass Pro Shops has committed $1.5 million over the next five years which will be matched two-to-one by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and its partners, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Missouri Department of Conservation and Arkansas Fish and Game Commission, for a grand total of $4.5 million going towards this important project.
• Another $2 million of Bass Pro Shops' and NFWF funds will help fish habitat projects nationwide.
"Our reservoirs provide important habitat for many native and sport fish, attracting anglers, visitors and water-related development that can accelerate pressure on the resources if left unchecked," commented NFWF's Krystyna Wolniakowski. "Preserving quality habitat in the lake and tributaries that feed it will be essential to our efforts to sustain these important fisheries for the public. We are very thankful to the leadership of Bass Pro Shops, the Missouri Department of Conservation, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, U.S. Army Corp of Engineers and the U.s. Forest Service for stepping up on this important effort."
• "Table Rock Lake contains the necessary components of economic importance, heavy public use and adequate fish densities to serve as a national model in sustaining and improving fish populations in aging reservoirs and watersheds," stated Missouri Department of Conservation Fisheries Biologist, Matt Mauck.
• Bass Pro Shops, along with Tracker Marine, designed and built a Fish Habitat Barge for the MDC to use for lake cover augmentation such as brushpiles, stump fields, rock reefs, etc.
• "All of Bass Pro Shops and Tracker Marine are proud to be a part of this great initiative that will insure good fishing for future generations," said Bass Pro Shops Director of Conservation, Martin MacDonald. "It is also a great honor to have one of our fabulous Ozarks lakes chosen to be a model for many other reservoirs across the country."
• Financial assistance will also be given to the septic pump out program operated by the James River Basin Partnership and Table Rock Lake Water Quality within the Table Rock watershed.
For more information on the Table Rock project, go to morefish.org.