Third Year of Fish Sticks Project at Kangaroo Lake

Nature Conservancy partners with Kangaroo Lake Association to provide fish habitat and reduce shoreline erosion.

Baileys Harbor, WI | February 09, 2017

For the third year in a row, the Kangaroo Lake Association, in partnership with The Nature Conservancy and partially funded by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, will place “Fish Sticks” in Kangaroo Lake to provide fish habitat and reduce shoreline erosion.

“The Fish Sticks project attempts to balance homeowners’ desire to enjoy their lake property with habitat and shoreline where aquatic plants, large and small fish, birds, reptiles, animals and all of nature in general can thrive,” said Tom Schneider, Kangaroo Lake Association president.

Fish Sticks are mid-sized trees that have been harvested elsewhere, transported to a lake and placed in the near shore, shallow water where they are then anchored to the shoreline.

The Nature Conservancy owns land on Kangaroo Lake and is donating an additional 31 trees from a planned tree thinning project, which Harbor Lumber of Baileys Harbor will cut and drag to the lake. Volunteers will move trees by hand and with a truck across the ice and place and secure them in 10 new locations. All of the locations will have a Fish Stick complex of three trees placed perpendicular to the shoreline, crossed and secured to each other and to the shoreline with cable to prevent movement after ice-out when they will sink into the lake.

“This innovative conservation project will have multiple benefits for Kangaroo Lake,” said Mike Grimm, conservation ecologist with The Nature Conservancy. “The partially submerged trees will provide habitat for many fish and invertebrates in the lake, protect the shoreline from wave erosion, provide calmer waters where submerged plants can get established, providing even more habitat for fish and other creatures. They will also provide resting and feeding sites for frogs, turtles, dragonflies and many lakeshore birds, particularly flycatchers and kingfishers.”

A study conducted by the University of Wisconsin’s Center for Limnology in northern Wisconsin and Upper Michigan showed that there are significantly more trees and other woody debris in undeveloped lakes than in developed lakes. Ninety-two percent of the life in a lake has its origin at the shoreline. When logs and trees are absent in the water at the shoreline, the number and size of fish decline. Songbirds disappear from the shoreline, frogs and turtles are all but eliminated and healthy aquatic plants are reduced significantly.

This approach to protect shoreline and improve fish habitat has been used successfully in other places, including Douglas and Bayfield counties where it helped reduce the impact of developments on lake shorelines.

A three-year Shoreline Preservation and Restoration Planning grant, which the Kangaroo Lake Association received from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources in 2014, supports the Fish Sticks Project and the Bulrush Restoration Project already under way on Kangaroo Lake.

“With the success of these second-year efforts, we hope more shoreline landowners will participate in our effort to balance the development that has occurred over the years with shoreline restoration according to Mother Nature,” Schneider commented.

For more information, contact: Tom Schneider, President of the Kangaroo Lake Association, 608-217-9460; or Mike Grimm, Conservation Ecologist, The Nature Conservancy, 920-743-8695


The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 72 countries, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit or follow @nature_press on Twitter.

Contact information

Tom Schneider
President of the Kangaroo Lake Association

Mike Grimm
Conservation Ecologist
The Nature Conservancy


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