Milwaukee Estuary AOC Fisheries and Aquatic Habitat


This project is an extension of current efforts by the Ozaukee County Planning and Parks Department to assess the status of fisheries in the Milwaukee Estuary AOC. It builds upon fisheries survey work being completed by DNR and USGS, augmenting with existing data in areas not surveyed, assisting with survey work, and providing a GIS based tool for fisheries for the entire AOC that will assist in management action decisions. The collection of this data and development and utilization of the GIS-based tool will help us prioritize potential sites for fish habitat restoration in the AOC.


1) Compile existing fisheries data, and prepare it for entry into the DNR fisheries database. The Department’s Fish Passage Program (Program) has collected fisheries monitoring data in the Milwaukee River Watershed and AOC since 2010 for the implementation of multiple Federal, State, local, and private grants. Per the QAPP’s, monitoring data is entered into the Program’s comprehensive database and has been shared with applicable granting agencies. Information in this database is linked to the Surface Water Integrated Monitoring System (SWIMS) database and the WDNR and U.S. Geological Survey’s Wisconsin Aquatic Gap Program (Gap) database, which provides a dynamic, queriable, geographically referenced interface. 2) Conduct qualitative habitat assessments for use in the fish model. Qualitative fish habitat rating assessments will be completed on the proposed project streams using the WDNR’s “Guidelines for Qualitative Physical Habitat Evaluation of Wadeable Streams” protocols for streams < 10 m wide (see field form attachment). These habitat assessments will be used in conjunction with the fisheries data layer (see task 4 below) for determining the overall habitat quality of the various stream reaches and potential for various target species occurrence. Data generated from this task will both refine the existing predictive model for the Milwaukee River AOC, develop a new fisheries model based on specific habitat variables (e.g. spawning requirements) that exist in the Milwaukee River AOC and validate the results of the models using the data and results of task 3. 3) Electrofishing surveys of tributary streams to the Milwaukee River in conjunction with qualitative habitat inventories. The “Guidelines for Qualitative Physical Habitat Evaluation of Wadeable Streams” protocols were originally designed by WDNR Fisheries Research staff and intended to accompany fisheries surveys. Trained Department staff will conduct backpack electrofishing surveys at select stream reach sites (as site conditions allow) to document the presence of native and/or focal/SLCI fish species for qualitative habitat inventory and fisheries matrix validation and to inform the GIS-based fish model data layer. Survey efforts will generate data to determine total catch per unit effort, target species catch per unit effort, native species richness, Index of Biotic Integrity (IBI), and evidence of reproduction. 4) Develop a fisheries habitat matrix and utilize ESRI ArcMap to prepare a GIS data layer displaying habitat inventory results for use in habitat restoration management action planning.

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Reports and Documents
Scope of Work for Ozaukee County's Fisheries and Aquatic Habitat to assess the status of fisheries and aquatic habitat in the Milwaukee Estuary Area of Concern (AOC).