Kiap-TU-Wish’s Tree Whisperer

Kiap-Tu-Wish’s Tree Whisperer: Last spring Don Fritz was one of the volunteers who helped plant trees at both Wilson and Cady Creeks. Don lives on a nearby bluff overlooking the Cady site. Fisheries Biologist Kasey Yallaly was concerned about the survival of the newly planted trees at the Cady site due to the severe drought conditions our area was experiencing. Thankfully, Don offered to keep an eye on them during the summer. Over the course of the summer, he drove down to the site with his ATV, towing a wagon containing a portable pump and hose, and, with the help of his wife Katie and friend Al Schmalz, they kept the trees watered and  in good shape through the summer. 

Don volunteered again to assist with the tree planting last week at Gilbert Creek and trailered over his ATV and watering setup. With an assist from Tom Schnadt, the two of them followed behind those of us planting trees  and gave each one a good soaking.  Don has volunteered to keep an eye on this new batch of trees over the summer to make sure that they survive this critical first year after planting.

So all of us at Kiap-TU-Wish would like to say “Thank You” to Don for making sure the trees at Cady and Gilbert Creek will get a chance to thrive in their new environment.

Maintenance Committee Meetings

Maintenance Committee Meeting with WDNR 11/27/23

Kasey Yallaly, Nate Anderson, Tom Schnadt, Randy Arnold, Missie Hanson, Scott Wagner

The committee reports that the four-year Maintenance Plan on prior habitat projects are mostly up-to-date with the following exceptions:

  1. A small section on lower Pine Creek has box elders that need to be brushed and cut.
  2. The Red Cabin site needs about a day of buckthorn removal and spraying.
  3. A Pine Creek fishing path is being mowed each year, but really needs to be burned to knock the Reed Canary grass back.
  4. The South Fork of Kinni fishing path was receiving some care from Pheasants Forever Organization, but they have discontinued maintaining the path. Reed Canary grass and willows continue to be a big problem on this site.
  5. The Potton easement on Kinnickinnic and Parker Creek needs brushing.
  6. The Pearson easement on Parker Creek needs brushing.
  7. Gutting easement on Trimbelle will need mowing or brushing if the current new owner doesn’t get livestock to graze it. The new owner might not have a clear understanding of how the DNR easement on his land works. Kasey Yallaly (WDNR) will try to clarify easement rules with the new landowner (Harris).

Summary of other actions

The Prairie Enthusiasts Organization will be contacted to determine if they have any interest in burning projects on Pine Creek and South Fork of Kinni.

Mowing in 2023 was done by Extreme Excavating and they did a great job. The cost of the mowing was $16,800 and it was paid for by a combination of Trout Stamp and Parks Maintenance dollars, and a Gift Fund, which Kiap-TU-Wish has contributed to.

Sites mowed this year were: Cady Creek, Pine Creek and Trimbelle Hwy W walking paths, Gilbert-Throud’s easement, Gilbert Triangle, Trimbelle-Holst, and Kinni-Red Cabin sites.

 Habitat Projects completed in 2023 were:

  1. Trimbelle-Thom easement: 3,500 feet, 30 boulder clusters, 2 ERO’s, 2 islands, 4 spawning riffles, 28 root wads and 3 rock V-weirs.
  2. Parker Creek: started a major project that will be completed in 2024. Everything is prepped and ready for rock hauling this winter. So far, 1,720 feet, 2 spawning riffles, 22 root wads, 4 boulder clusters, 1 rock V-weirs, 2 islands and 1 current deflector have been installed.

Habitat Projects scheduled for 2024 are:

  1. Parker Creek: remaining 3,500 feet of project west of Pleasant Ave bridge.
  2. Plum Creek-Martin easement: 3,600 feet on both banks, upstream from Von Holtum easement.
  3. Kinni-Moody easement: 2,700 feet on one bank.

 ERO Structures on South Fork of Kinni:

  1. Loren Haas submitted a report that additional ERO structures are needed to continue flushing sand that has been clogging the South Fork of Kinni. There isn’t any cost-effective way to prevent the sand from entering the South Fork that comes from two large degraded ravines on the SE side of the South Fork headwaters. Loren is proposing 18 additional ERO Structures. Nate Anderson (WDNR) has reviewed Loren’s report and has walked the South Fork project site with Loren. Cost for rock would be approximately $15,000. The Kiap-TU-Wish board will be asked to consider using funds dedicated to the project to purchase rock this winter, so that project can move forward in late 2024 or early 2025.

Kasey Yallay and Nate Anderson noted that the State of Wisconsin is instituting 7% across the board budget cuts and that the DNR’s budget is going to get hit hard. This will make funding difficult for new habitat projects and maintaining existing habitat projects for the next couple of years. The State Council of TU will be contacted to make sure Trout Stamp funds will be used appropriately.

Maintenance Committee Meeting with Pierce County Soil Conservation 12/07/23

Rod Webb, Rhetta Isakson (both from Pierce County), Kasey Yallaly, Nate Anderson, Randy Arnold, Missie Hanson, Tom Schnadt, Scott Wagner

Rod mentioned what a great job Jeff Jackson, DNR CAFO representative for the area, has been doing educating farmers about what they can do to improve their water quality and in gaining their cooperation in implementing additional conservation practices to their operations. Tom suggested inviting Jeff Jackson to speak about his work with farmers at an upcoming Kiap-Tu-Wish meeting.  Missie Hansen will bring this suggestion to the board. Note: Jeff Jackson has been a frequent volunteer with Kiap-TU-Wish volunteer workdays and Rush River clean up days.

Rod and Rhetta went over WAV data sampling of phosphate levels from many different locations in Pierce County. WAV workers and volunteers are also collecting temperature data on the streams they are monitoring. Rod is very interested in the data that Kiap-TU-Wish volunteers under Kent Johnson’s direction have been collecting over the years. Tom Schnadt asked if this data had been moved to a public server, yet, and if so, if Kiap-TU-Wish partners had been notified of its location. Tom asked that this be given a high priority if it hasn’t happened yet. This will bring this to the attention of the Kiap-TU-Wish Board and Communications Committee.

Rod went over a number of erosion mitigation projects that his office worked on during 2023. Besides projects that his office continues to work on in the uplands above the South Fork of the Kinni, Rod mentioned that there isn’t funding for the huge projects that would be needed to trap sand below the two eroded ravines on SE side of South Fork headwaters.

Rod also talked about 4 counties (St. Croix, Pierce, Dunn and one other county) getting together to apply for federal dollars to fund some large streambank stabilization projects administered through the NRCS in the future.

Tom suggested bringing the St. Croix County Soil and Water Conservation office into this meeting and collaborator discussion group. Scott will contact Tim Schreiber from St. Croix County to invite him into this discussion group.

Service/Learning Day

Greenwood Elementary 4th Grade Service/Learning Day

Three workdays were held in advance of Friday, with volunteers from our chapter cutting the buckthorn and box elder, treating the stumps with herbicide and finally stacking the slash in multiple piles for when the 4th graders could drag the material to a bonfire to be burned up.

When they arrived, the students were given a short talk on safety. They were then formed into two groups, one headed by former DNR fisheries biologist Marty Engel ,who took the students on a nature hike to give them an opportunity to see, up close, the multitude of aquatic bugs present on rocks and woody debris in the stream and to hear about the importance of a healthy riparian corridor.

The other group of students quickly descended upon the brush piles, dragging the slash to the waiting bonfire. The weather was ideal for this event. Precipitation the night before, which had changed from rain to snow, served to wet down the nearby prairie grass and alleviate any chance of the bonfire getting out of control.

In talking with Steve Papp afterwards, he deemed this year’s event another roaring success. These students are also involved with TIC (Trout in the Classroom) at their school and made a recent trip in mid-November to the St. Croix Hatchery, where they got a tour and picked up their trout eggs for the program.

Thanks go out to those who helped cut the material on the 3 staging workdays and to the 8 who turned out to help on Friday: Perry Anderson, Tom Anderson, Michele Bevis, Steve Wardell, John Skelton, Jim Tatzel, Pat Sexton, and Marty Engel. I look forward to continuing this program with Greenwood Elementary for years to come. There will never be a shortage of buckthorn or box elder for these kids to help out with.

-Randy Arnold

Workday Opportunities

Workday Opportunities This Week
I don’t know about the rest of you but, I have been going ‘stir crazy’ from the lack of workdays due to this run of sub-zero temperatures.  With a break in the weather forecast for this week, I would like to get out and work to begin wrapping up the brush and tree clearing which was begun at the Lueck site back in December. There is still a good 2-3 double shift days of work remaining before we are finished up here and can move on to another site.   If enough volunteers are interested, I will hold a work session on Thursday morning starting at 8:00 and running till noon or 1:00.  There will definitely be a workday this Saturday and hopefully there will be enough volunteers to justify both a morning and afternoon shift starting at 8:00 and noon respectively.   Please email me at if you plan to attend either workday.  I will let respondents know by Wed. whether or not there are enough volunteers to proceed with the Thursday workday. 

Chainsaw operators must have completed the safety training and have a full complement of safety gear.  For those of you dragging and burning brush, bring some good work gloves as well as some clothing which you won’t be upset when a few hot ashes fall on them and burn a hole or two.  

Don’t forget that the online Kiaptuwish fundraising banquet is coming up on the 25th.  You can visit the website to bid on auctions for gear and trips. Auction Link

Workdays Feb 11, 2021

BRRRRRRR!  No Workday Again This Weekend
You would have a hard time convincing some skeptics that our planet is in the midst of global warming given the temperatures we have been experiencing for the past week.  I had hoped that milder weather would arrive for this weekend so that we could resume workdays but, the forecast for this Saturday is calling for an overnight low of -20 and a daytime high of -9 with a wind out of the north in double digits.  If and when the weather moderates again, ,look forward to getting back out in the field and finishing up our clearing work at the Lueck site on the Kinni.  I might even go so far as to schedule a mid-week workday just to get back in the swing of things. In the meantime, you can check out the auction items available for this year’s online banquet occurring on Feb. 25th.  Thanks for all of your volunteer support.  To contact Randy Arnold, our volunteer coordinator, or be added to our volunteer email list send email to

Monitoring Update – May 2020

Our chapter’s monitoring efforts continue, even during a global pandemic! The Willow River is one of the several local rivers and streams that we monitor for water temperature and other variables. In April of 2016, temperature loggers were installed at three locations. One is located at the USGS water-flow monitoring site roughly a quarter mile downstream from Little Falls Dam. The other two are located roughly a quarter mile upstream from the Trout Brook Road bridge, one in the Main Branch and one in the Race.

The 2018 / 2019 data retrieved from the logger in the Race showed a minimum water temperature, in January 2018, of 32.04 degrees Fahrenheit (about as close to freezing as you can get!) to a maximum water temperature, in July 2019, of 76.0 degrees Fahrenheit. From what I’ve learned, this large temperature variance doesn’t bode well for trout populations. The water is too cold in the winter and too warm in the summer. An important thing to note is that this data was collected after the Little Falls Dam was removed.

In 2014 it was determined that the Little Falls Dam needed to be replaced. By the fall of 2015, the draw-down of Little Falls Lake was complete, and the dam was removed. This allowed the river to flow freely until early 2020 when a new dam was constructed, and Little Falls Lake began to fill in. As of today, the lake is nearly 100% full. As our monitoring continues, it will be interesting to see if the dam, and the impoundment behind it, will affect the water temperatures going forward.

—John Kaplan & Kent Johnson