Case Study: Spicer Area Fisheries
|The Spicer fisheries crew takes eggs from a walleye for use at the New London hatchery.
Spicer area fisheries manager Dave Coahran knows how to make an impression on the younger set. For the past 20 years, the live fish displays and hands-on learning activities his crew provides have been the hit of the annual Kandiyohi County 6th Grade Conservation Days held at Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center. But the engaging lessons local youngsters have been learning about clean water and healthy lakes could soon end due to tightening budgets.
Unless additional funding is secured, Coahran says, the Spicer fisheries station won't be able to continue participating in the multi-day environmental education event. That could spell the end of the event itself, impacting 400-600 area sixth graders, and what they're able learn about aquatic ecosystems.
The Spicer fisheries station also may be unable to continue offering tours of the New London fish hatchery, a popular attraction for campers at nearby Sibley State Park. Recent staff reductions have made it difficult to continue the Friday tours and still complete the necessary field sampling tasks associated with lake and stream management and fish rearing activities. Further reductions would make it impossible.
"Outreach has been key to many of our efforts, and it's a big reason for the public support we receive," Coahran says. "But I don't see how it can survive another round of budget cuts."
The bottom line?
Without a license fee increase, the Spicer Area Fisheries office will need to significantly curtail its public outreach and educational efforts.
What We Do: Highlights
The Minnesota DNR's Spicer Fisheries Area includes Kandiyohi County and portions of Stearns, Lyon, Chippewa, Lac Qui Parle, Swift and Yellow Medicine. Land types vary from agricultural dominated watersheds with shallow, aerated lakes in the southern portion to hardwood/residential dominated watersheds with deeper, clearer prairie-forest transition lakes in the northern portion.
- Managed the fisheries of 40 lakes and several moderate sized rivers/creeks (Chippewa, North and Middle Forks Crow, Yellow Medicine).
- Operated and oversaw facility improvements at the New London Fish Hatchery.
- Provided 100-200 quarts of walleye eggs for statewide hatching operations.
- Hatched 40-65 million walleye fry at the New London Hatchery.
- Produced 10,000 to 20,000 lbs of walleye fingerlings from rearing ponds for area and statewide stocking needs.
- Produced 500,000 walleye frylings at the New London Hatchery.
- Stocked 38 lakes with various sizes of walleye and other fish species as needed.
- Grew 2,500 muskellunge fingerlings at the New London Hatchery.
- Acquired and managed Aquatic Management Areas.
- Monitored several fishing tournaments.
- Conducted annual fish disease sampling on various rearing ponds and lakes prior to all stockings.
- Collected fish for contaminant testing to assist Dept. of Health and Pollution Control Agency in determining fish consumption advisories.
- Managed and maintained Kandiyohi County Fair fish displays for 1-week in August.
- Monitored the largest private walleye aquaculture facility in MN for contract walleye stockings.
- Provided environmental education to over 3,000 people from area schools, environmental learning centers and events.
- Conducted New London Fish Hatchery tours during the summer, most for Sibley State Park campers.
- Operated two kids' fishing ponds.
- Coordinated with local watershed and other government agencies on water quality issues.
- Worked with area lake associations and sportsmen's clubs on invasive species and other issues.
- Conducted surveys and special assessments on 20 or more lakes.
- Monitored winter dissolved oxygen levels, assisted local groups on aerated lakes, conducted winterkill fish assessments.
- Consulted and assisted with oversight of New London Dam replacement and other environmental project reviews.
- Coordinated with local groups on Outdoor Heritage, Clean Water Legacy and Lottery funded proposals.
- Administered Aquatic Plant Management (APM), commercial fishing and other permit programs.