TWF Assists Indiana Department of Natural Resources with Tippecanoe River Fisheries Survey

Wednesday, October 11, 2017 - 2:08pm

Most volunteer job descriptions don’t include wading chest-deep through electro-charged water while catching fish by the dozens- but that’s exactly what The Watershed Foundation agreed to do when asked by the Fish Management District 1 of the IDNR Division of Fish and Wildlife for a day of electrofishing on their final day of site evaluations! The Indiana Department of Natural Resources conducted a full blown Tippecanoe River Fisheries survey during the month of September. The survey consisted of electrofishing, seine (net) hauls, water chemistry parameters, and a Qualitative Habitat Evaluation Index (QHEI) assessment at each of 15 sites from Lake Tippecanoe down to the confluence with the Wabash River.

“We, and partners, survey this river every couple of years to monitor the health of the fishery, water quality, habitat, and aquatic communities,” explained Brianna Ciara, assistant fisheries research biologist. “These surveys help us decide management strategies that will provide the best opportunities for wildlife, recreation, and anglers.”

The electrofishing is done in segments of the river to get a glimpse of the fish life in the water at that point in time. Water samples testing for pH, temperature, dissolved oxygen and conductivity also give fisheries scientists a glimpse into current conditions in the river. The QHEI describes the habitat quality at each site which helps to assess how land use influences stream function. “The purpose of this survey is to assess the current state of the Tippy River fishery, compare it to previous surveys, and potentially look for any correlations with land management changes over the past 30 years,” said Ciara.

The DFW partners in conservation around the State and reached out to TWF and other organizations including IDEM, ISWCD, Grace College, Manchester, and Purdue Universities, and several local conservation districts to help with the process. Many groups worked together to make a difference!

“This type of collaboration demonstrates how we all have a common goal in protecting our local lakes and rivers. The DFW’s data will help complete an overall picture of the health of the rivers that feed the many lakes in our watershed,” said Lyn Crighton, Executive Director of TWF.

The results from the QHEI scores and fishery quality throughout the different river reaches will be evaluated by the biologists to determine how best to maintain our local fish populations. “The Tippecanoe River is one of the most biologically diverse systems in the U.S. and provides excellent fishing opportunities for anglers, homes for wildlife, exciting recreational opportunities, cleans our water, and connects our communities,” said Ciara.

The State Wildlife Action Plan identified the Tippecanoe River as a Priority Area for conservation and collaboration because it serves such incredible functions. As fisheries biologists, we want to understand and conserve this awesome resource in order to provide the best opportunities we can for the wildlife, lakes, and people of Indiana.

With questions, or more information on ways you can help your local watershed, contact Fisheries Management District 1, D1fish@dnr.in.gov, (574) 896-3673.