GLA restores brook trout habitat in Dakin Creek

Sections of vertical banks on Dakin Creek will be repaired or armored with re-purposed Christmas trees as part of the Green Lake Association’s “balsam for brookies” project. The Christmas trees protect stream banks and provide habitat for brook trout, a native species that has not been documented on this trout stream since the 1950s and will be stocked as the final phase of this stream restoration project. submitted photo

By Jennifer Fjelsted

Dakin Creek, a six-mile stream that flows into the eastern side of Green Lake, was once a healthy trout stream popular with local anglers and curious kids.

But the brook trout disappeared from Dakin Creek in the 1950s. Today, degraded streambanks and high sediment levels on the stream offer limited habitat for native brook trout.

The Green Lake Association (GLA) is working to change that.

According the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Dakin Creek has the potential to be a high-quality trout stream and its restoration would more than double Green Lake County’s trout stream footage.

Brook trout exist nowhere else in Green Lake’s 107-square-mile watershed.

The extensive restoration of Dakin Creek will repair 3,600 feet of eroded stream banks, create new brook trout habitat, and replace two culverts that prevent fish passage.

Once the infrastructural repair portions of the project are complete, native brook trout will be reintroduced after missing from this trout stream for nearly 70 years.

In its degraded condition, Dakin Creek contributes to the sediment and phosphorus loading of Green Lake. Over the years, water quality has declined in Green Lake and the streams that flow to it. The GLA is working with its lake management partners to install a robust suite of conservation practices to improve the lake’s water quality and preserve this important natural resource.

In addition to securing private donations for the Dakin Creek stream restoration, the GLA recently was awarded a $50,000 DNR grant to bring back the “brookies.” The project received the highest score in the state in the River Protection category.

The GLA also collected nearly 400 reclaimed Christmas trees in January, which will protect eroding sections of streambank and create fish habitat.

We had so many enthusiastic volunteers who came out when the weather was still freezing to bale the donated Christmas trees for this project.

When the weather is warmer, I can’t wait to see everyone coming together again to help place these trees in the stream. This project will do so much to help our community, lake and fish.

It is estimated that this project will decrease phosphorus loading (a contributor to lake pollution and algal bloom growth) into Green Lake by 40 pounds of phosphorus per year. Since one pound of phosphorus fuels 500 pounds of algae, this project should prevent the growth of 20,000 pounds of oxygen-consuming algae annually.

The Dakin Creek project is just one part of the GLA’s overall strategy for improving the quality of the Green Lake watershed. When the project is completed next year, Dakin Creek will once again be a healthy and popular trout stream contributing to the health and diversity of Green Lake.

This project is made possible by the DNR, Green Lake County Land Conservation Department, town of Brooklyn, and private landowners who are committed to doing what is right for the lake.

Volunteer days will be scheduled later this summer. If you are interested in helping with this project or would like more information, contact me at or call me at 920-294-6480.

Jennifer Fjelsted is the communication and project manager for the Green Lake Association, a local not-for-profit that works to improve water quality for Green Lake.