High quality habitat is key to having a high quality
aquatic recreational experience. Whether it be fishing,
boating, swimming or simply enjoying a shoreline
picnic, the measure of the experience is inextricably
linked to the habitat quality.
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Reservoir construction peaked in the 1950's through 1970's making most reservoirs in the country 50 years old or older. Habitat in these systems has degraded over time.
Replacing woody structure has been a focus of many state fish and game agency programs and has been advocated by angling groups historically.
Shoreline brush piles work well for concentrating fish already present in the reservoir but seldom increase production of fish.
Planting native aquatic vegetation provides cover for small fishes and will increase production of bass and other shoreline-oriented fishes. Plants need to be protected from carp, turtles and other plant eaters. It's important to consult with your local biologists on the types of plants needed to avoid introduction of non-native plants which can be a problem for your reservoir and its users.
Removal of shoreline vegetation usually leads to erosion. Homeowners like to have a clear view of thewater. However, this view can come at a cost to the fishery, water clarity, and ecological health of the reservoir
Reshaping and revegetating shorelines is the best way to correct shoreline errosion problems. However, it is only practical on reservoirs with minimal water level fluctuations.
Constant rising and falling of water levels and wave action can cause shoreline erosion.
Placing rocks or "rip-rap" on shorelines is the best way to control erosion in systems with constant water level fluctuations or heavy wave action
Bank erosion on impounded streams above reservoirs is typically caused by removal of vegetation along the stream edge or by allowing livestock to graze riparian areas. This can allow sediments to enter the stream and accumulate in the reservoir.
Fencing to exclude livestock is the best way to maintain an adequate vegetation zone along stream banks.
Silt from eroded stream banks is deposited in the upper portions of reservoirs causing excessive shallow areas that reduce the capacity of the reservoir to support aquatic life, recreational activity, and ability to provide flood control and municipal water supply.
Draining lakes and physically removing silt is the only remedy for excessive siltation. These types of projects can be very expensive. Taking measures to reduce siltation in the first place is always the best course of action.
Constructing small reservoirs or ponds upstream of the reservoir designed to trap the silt and nutrients are effective in improving water quality in smaller reservoirs. Note clear reservoir in the background.
Constructing wetlands on the upper ends of reservoirs help filter the runoff which removes silt and nutrients prior to the water entering the reservoir. These wetlands provide abundant habitat for wildlife and also improve water quality.