Monday, October 24, 2011

Fish survival dependent on landowners

Fish survival is tied to habitat- to their water. And, like most species of wildlife, their habitat condition is often dependent on actions taken by private
Simply put, fish need food, water, shelter, and favorable conditions to breed and raise their young. A more complex story emerges when you manage habitats for many different fish species, with very different life cycles and needs. Some fish need
cold water, others need warm. Some use sandy bottoms, others like to hide under rocks and wood, and on and on.
Overall, it’s watershed management, particularly the management of the land nearest the stream, that’s most important to fish. Healthy plant life along a stream, and a steady flow of clean water are critical.
Land development or poor forestry or agricultural practices can cause erosion that results in sediment that can cement stream gravels and smother fish eggs.
Streambank erosion can also mean less overhanging vegetation that contributes leaves and twigs that host some of the insects fish eat. While coldwater fish such as trout have different habitat needs than warm water fish like bass, there are some
general management tips that fit all streams to improve habitat:

1) Control upland erosion on fields, pastures, and forests.
2) Maintain vegetation on streambanks, protected from trampling and erosion.
3) Plant riparian (streamside) buffers of trees, shrubs and grasses, preferably native.
4) Install grass filter strips and waterways to trap sediments.
5) Keep farm chemicals, manure and other harmful ag products
out of the water.

In-stream practices.
Meandering streams with riffles and pools, undercut banks with overhanging vegetation, and submerged wood are ideal for trout and other fishes.
Keeping streams free of barriers to fish movement up and downstream, and maintaining
wetlands and backwaters in floodplains are also important management techniques.

Did you
That slime you feel when you
handle a fish is a type of
mucus secreted from the skin
that’s very important to a fish.
It’s a coating that provides protection
against parasites and
diseases, covers wounds to prevent
infection and helps fish
move through the water faster.

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