and brush provided cover for the lake’s expanding fish populations.
Throughout the past 50 years, much of that habitat has begun to deteriorate and disappear, reducing the amount of habitat available to fish. The NFHI project is supplementing the deteriorating habitat with new habitat. Cedar trees, hardwood treetops and recycled Christmas trees are being used to build fish habitat. These types of materials are placed in Table Rock Lake using MDC’s “Table Rock Fish Habitat Barge.” The habitat barge was built specifically for this purpose by Tracker Marine in Lebanon, Mo. It is a large pontoon-style boat with a hydraulic lift on the front that raises and “dumps” the habitat into the lake.
MDC has contracted another habitat barge— the “Rock Barge”—to place larger habitat structures comprised of rocks and stumps into the lake. This barge has a large half-circle-shaped basin on the front and a hydraulic piston in the rear that pushes the rock and stumps from the basin off the front of the barge. MDC gets these materials from developers, contractors and landowners in the Table Rock Lake area who are clearing land and need to dispose of them. To date, 1,460 brushpiles, 104 rock structures, 49 stump fields, 11 combinations and 26 rock “fence” structures have been installed, for a total of 1,650 new habitat structures in Table Rock Lake. These structures were placed in areas and depths that are available for fish during most of the year, were located using GPS, and are available to the public on MDC’s website at mdc.mo.gov/node/10182.
Water quality is a critical component of fish habitat. In addition to improving physical habitat, MDC is also helping to improve the water quality of Table Rock Lake by working in the watershed.
Funding has been contributed to project partners such as the James River Basin Partnership and Table Rock Lake Water Quality, Inc., to help with septic tank pump-outs and septic system upgrades within the watershed. This pumping program is part of the James River Basin Partnership’s “Pump a Million” campaign and offers a $50 incentive per pump-out to landowners within the watershed of Table Rock Lake to promote proper maintenance of their septic systems and water quality improvement. More than 2 million gallons of septic tank content have been pumped out under this program. Each participant also receives a packet of educational materials that explains the importance of properly