Pike Habitat Restoration Reaches Milestone

BELLEVUE, Wis (WBAY) Efforts to grow the northern pike population on the Bay of Green Bay reach a milestone in Brown County.

There's a new addition to Bethel Park in Bellevue where the two branches of Willow Creek come together.

"About a one acre, high quality northern pike spawning habitat that we created," says Chuck Larscheid, Brown County Pike Restoration Program Project Manager.

Since 2007, Brown County's Pike Restoration Project has now completed more than 60 projects like this to create wetland spawning areas from Suamico to Bellevue.

Each site is surveyed and analyzed to develop the ideal plan for that location.

"Depending on what water body is there, flow characteristics, whether there's wetlands or not wetlands, sometimes you're digging in existing wetlands, sometimes you're creating," says David Wetenkamp, Brown County Land and Water Conservation Engineer.

By creating better spawning habitat, the goal is to help pike flourish in the Bay of Green Bay like walleye and musky.

"Northern pike are considered the third big predator species and it could be a good trophy fishery in the Bay of Green Bay if we could get northern pike numbers up," says Larscheid.

For the Village of Bellevue, it was a no-brainer to embrace this 2-year project.

"Hopefully somewhere in the future we could actually have a trail coming out here and some educational signs and what not to educate the public of what this whole project is about, right now we're just going to keep it natural and let nature do it's course," says Stephanie Schlag, Village of Bellevue Parks, Recreation and Forestry Director.

Funding for the pike spawning restoration, and this one was $70,000, comes from money set aside from the Fox River clean-up, as well as Ducks Unlimited and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

"We've had some projects that have been highly successful," says Larscheid.

And the expectation is that Willow Creek will be on that list next spring.

Larscheid says one successful habitat restoration area resulted in 40,000 young pike entering the bay last spring.