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Staff members of the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission secure concrete blocks to cedar trees to create structures to attract fish.

When the Fisheries Division of the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission does an aquatic habitat rehabilitation project, the goals are usually much larger than just providing a few structures to attract fish.

There is nothing wrong with brush piles, log cribs, root wads and broken concrete that can be placed in a water body to attract fish and make them easier to find and catch. But when we are doing a rehabilitation project, we usually have bigger fish to fry — are trying to protect shorelines, reduce sedimentation and improve water quality.

Cleaner water from those rehabilitation techniques result in more shallow-water cover, especially aquatic vegetation. They also result in better water clarity, which increases productivity and ultimately provides more and bigger fish to catch. That’s a much bigger goal than just adding some fish attractors.

However, we often add a variety of fish attractors when doing a rehabilitation project, and we often do that kind of work in conjunction with volunteers. Many times, a fishing group or club will offer to help drag cedar trees out onto a water body, and then wire concrete blocks to them to keep them from floating away. When I am contacted by an individual or group interested in doing that type of project on one of their favorite fishing holes, I usually put them in contact with our regional fisheries supervisors to get the ball rolling.

To anyone interested in doing that type of project, especially if you are a member of a club or group that might be interested, I want you to know about an offer that will facilitate such projects.

The Friends of Reservoirs (friendsofreservoirs.com) is a nonprofit foundation established to “promote the protection, restoration, and enhancement of habitat for fish and other aquatic species in reservoir systems.”

This nonprofit has a couple of grants available that nongovernment organizations can apply for to be used for the placement of fish attractor structures in reservoirs. Go to the website and click on "Grants." There you will find the Small Project Grant and the Mossback Grant. The application and process are similar for both.

If you are interested in pursuing these grants and need some assistance in completing the applications, do not hesitate to ask me.

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Daryl Bauer is the fisheries outreach program manager for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. Contact him at daryl.bauer@nebraska.gov. Read his blog, Barbs and Backlashes, at OutdoorNebraska.org.

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