Fish habitat improved by MDC partnership with youths from St. Joseph

News from the region
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St. Joseph, Mo. – Youths from the St. Joseph area recently volunteered to help the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) staff build fish habitat structures that were placed in publish fishing lakes. The project was a partnership between MDC and the Youth Volunteer Corps, which is a program of the St. Joseph Youth Alliance.

Fish such as crappie often stage near underwater habitat such as submerged trees. But many ponds and lakes don’t have flooded timber or brush. MDC sinks trees for fish habitat in some lakes. When trees are not available or are not the best choice, artificial structures can be used. The Youth Volunteer Corps helped MDC staff use various types of plastic pipe to build structures that resemble trees.

“The Youth Volunteer Corps is a great organization that is always looking for volunteer work that teaches kids how to do outdoor related activities and improve life skills at the same time,” said Thomas Huffmon, MDC fisheries management biologist. “I felt it was a good way for the kids to learn about fish habitat. We may try to get them back out next spring to do a fishing and canoeing demonstration to fish over the habitat so they can see their work come full circle.”

The habitat project was arranged with help from MDC conservation agents, who also do programs for the St. Joseph Youth Alliance.  The structures were built at MDC’s shop at Chillicothe.

The plastic pipe structures mimicking trees were placed in several lakes withing MDC’s Community Assistance Program. That includes fishing lakes in or near Brookfield, Marceline, and Salisbury. Habitat structures also were placed in lakes used primarily for educational programs at the North Central Missouri College at Trenton and the Jerry Litton Agri-Science Center at Chillicothe.

MDC staff can provide guidance to private landowners wishing to improve fishing and fish habitat in their pond or lake. For help, contact MDC’s Northwest Regional Office, 816-271-3100, or MDC’s Chillicothe Office, 660-646-6122.