According to NPS policy, natural resources will be managed to preserve fundamental physical and biological processes.  The NPS is to endeavor to maintain all the components and processes of naturally evolving park ecosystems, including the natural abundance, diversity, and genetic and ecological integrity of the plant and animal species native to those ecosystems.  Management policies allow for intervention to restore natural ecosystem functioning that has been disrupted by past or ongoing human activities.  The NPS also recognizes that active management may be necessary to restore ecosystems to a natural condition or to maintain the closest approximation of natural conditions when a truly natural system is no longer attainable (NPS, 2006). 

Restoration of the historical fish habitat may be necessary to perpetuate the brook trout fishery, which is important to the riverway both as a natural and recreational resource.  Unfortunately, comprehensive historical documentation on Namekagon River habitat conditions that existed prior to the present day is lacking.  The Fish Habitat History Report is needed to ensure that any habitat manipulations constitute habitat restoration and are consistent with NPS policy.       

In addition to the importance of the brook trout fishery, the NPS is mandated to protect the Namekagon River’s free-flowing character and other natural, scenic, and recreational values.  Canoeing and kayaking are popular recreational activities in the cold water zone of the Namekagon.  Any habitat restoration activities will need to be carefully designed to balance fish habitat restoration needs with the protection of other recreational values and the free-flowing character of the river.

In this report, we examine the following hypotheses:

  1. The river is wider and shallower now than it was prior to European settlement.
  2. The river has less big woody cover on the banks and in the stream channel than it did historically, due primarily to riparian timber harvest and log driving activities more than a century ago.
  3. Brook trout and other cold-water species were more abundant before the logging era.

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