DNR efforts are often best spent improving land management practices in watersheds surrounding trout streams. This is particularly true in cases where natural trout reproduction has been impeded by excessive watershed erosion and sedimentation.
Streams that lack cover, spawning areas or have severely eroded banks can sometimes be improved with in-stream trout habitat projects. Projects also add cover for adult fish and improve spawning areas. In some very successful instances, habitat projects have tripled trout abundance.
To add cover for adult fish, logs are installed along stream banks to provide "cribs" to mimic banks that are naturally undercut by stream flow. These log structures are held in place by rocks, which are then covered with soil and seeded with grass. Log "cribs" are very difficult to see several years after construction.
Other trout habitat improvements commonly made in streams include rip-rapping to reduce erosion on exposed banks and bank sloping to reduce sediment in streams. Sometimes, fencing also will be added along a stream to reduce erosion by limiting livestock access to a few areas.
Public funding cannot be used to improve trout streams that are not accessible to everyone. Trout stocking or habitat improvement projects cannot be done on private property unless an easement has been granted to the DNR.
Approximately three miles of stream are improved each year through cooperative efforts between the DNR, local angling groups, landowners that have sold easements, and other government agencies.