A project on the Lost River continues this week with stream bed excavation intended to improve trout habitat.

Staff with Gladden Construction, under a contract administered by the Koochiching Soil and Water Conservation District, excavated the stream bed of the Lost River Tuesday and installed rock to create a series of pools, which act as a stair way of sorts, allowing for easier movement of the fish.

The project was funded by a Conservation Partner Grant, a part of the larger Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Fund. These grants require local matching funds, which were raised largely due to the efforts of Julian Brzoznowski, of Orr.

Many local anglers contributed money from their own pockets to help provide the matching funds in a cooperative effort to improve the habitat.

“It’s great to see this kind of enthusiasm and participation from local anglers,” said Kevin Peterson, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources International Falls area fisheries supervisor. “The completed project should result in larger sized trout in the Lost RIver, by improving pool habitat.”

Jeff Tilma, DNR northeast regional stream habitat coordinator, provided technical assistance.

This part of the project follows work in April when 1,200 small trout found new homes in Lost River and Fawn Creek.

Peterson reported at that time this is the third year of stocking Fawn Creek and the fifth year of stocking Lost River.

The DNR had a long history of stocking Lost River back to the 1940s, Peterson said. The program was suspended in the 1980s when priorities and program direction statewide changed.

“Due in part to the continuing interest in stream trout fishing in the area, we resumed the program,” Peterson said.

The goal is to establish a self-sustaining population of brook trout in Lost River.

“So far, we’ve seen no evidence of natural reproduction in Lost River, but trout are reproducing in a tributary, Bull Dog-Hanson tributary,” Peterson said.

The management focus now is to connect the portions of Lost River where fish have been stocked and the DNR knows they can survive with the tributary where fish are reproducing, he said. Part of that effort includes removing beaver dams to improve fish passage on that stretch of the river.

Peterson said he’s pleased with the response to the stocking so far.

“We’re getting many reports from anglers during the summer, some who sent pictures to prove they are catching very nice brook trout on the Lost River now,” Peterson said. “I would definitely deem our efforts a success at this point in time.”

Brzoznowski said in April he’s pleased with the effort that has been funded by local people, Koochiching County and the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council.

“There are many younger people going out fishing,” he said of the return of trout to the streams.

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