Waters to Watch

A list assembled by the nation’s leading authorities on aquatic conservation to create cleaner and healthier habitats for the many fish and wilfdlife species and people who call these areas home

So what is Waters to watch and why Should I care?

The 10 Waters to Watch list, assembled by the nation’s leading authorities on aquatic conservation, is a collection of rivers, streams and shores that will be cleaner and healthier habitats for the many fish and wildlife species and people who call these areas home.

Thanks to the combined actions of concerned community groups, non-profit organizations, local watershed groups, Native American tribes and state and federal agencies, these waters are being improved by planting stream-side vegetation, removing structures blocking fish from habitat and protecting bodies of water from the effects of industrial processes, agriculture and livestock.

They are representative of freshwater to marine waters across the country including lakes and reservoirs that are improving through the conservation efforts of the National Fish Habitat Action Plan — a bold initiative to reverse persistent declines in aquatic habitat.

1. Carmel River, California

Project Submission by: The California Fish Passage Forum

The Carmel River Reroute and San Clemente Dam Project is the largest dam removal project ever to occur in California ($83 million) and one of the largest to occur on the West Coast.

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2. Eel River, Indiana

Project Submission by: The Ohio River Basin Fish Habitat Partnership

The mission of the Eel River Initiative is to design and implement a holistic strategy to restore the ecological integrity of the Eel River basin within the context of human endeavors and to provide ecological research opportunities for Manchester University Environmental Studies students.

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3. Mill Creek and Deer Creek, California

Project Submission by: The California Fish Passage Forum

Both Deer and Mill creeks are considered conservation strongholds for this ESU, as well as Central Valley steelhead (O. mykiss), which are listed as threatened under the Federal Endangered Species Act, and fall-run Chinook salmon, listed as a State Species of Special Concern. The Final Central Valley Chinook Salmon and Steelhead Recovery Plan identifies Deer and Mill creeks as top priority watersheds for the recovery of Central Valley spring-run Chinook salmon and Central Valley steelhead (National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS 2014). Improving fish passage on both creeks is vital to the overall health and recovery of Chinook salmon and steelhead in California’s Central Valley.

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Peno Creek, MO.

4. Peno Creek, Missouri

Project Submission by: The Fishers & Farmers Partnership

Agricultural landowners in Peno Creek Priority Watershed (Salt River Basin) are voluntarily installing best management practices to meet NFHP/FFP goals through water quality improvement and habitat protection. Best management practices will reduce erosion, sedimentation, and nutrient loading. Some of these actions include installing alternative drinking sources and stream crossings, fencing cattle out of the stream, reforestation of the riparian corridor, streambank stabilization or other aquatic habitat restoration, and establishment of cover crops to improve soil health. Stakeholders will continue to be consulted to guide long-term community watershed efforts with the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Practices are installed by landowners and contractors under MDC guidance and are guaranteed in place for at least 10 years.

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5. Qwuloolt Estuary, Washington

Project Submission by: The Pacific Marine and Estuarine Partnerships

The Qwuloolt (Qwuloolt means “marsh” in the Lushootseed language) Estuary is located within the Snohomish River floodplain about three miles upstream from its outlet to Puget Sound. Historically, the area was tidal marshand forest scrub-shrub habitat, interlaced by tidal channels, mudflats and streams. The project area was cut off from the natural influence of the Snohomish River and Salish Sea tides by levees, and drained by ditches instead of stream channels. Prior to the breach the area was characterized mostly by a monoculture of invasive reed canary grass instead of native estuarine vegetation, and warm water invasive fishes and amphibians. Through the cooperation of its many partners, this project has returned some of the historic and natural influences of the river and tides to the Qwuloolt area.

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Lake Wichita

6. Lake Wichita, Texas

Project Submission by: The Reservoir Fish Habitat Partnership

Lake Wichita is the third oldestreservoir in Texas, completed in 1901. Historically Lake Wichita was known as the “Gem of North Texas”, and served as a recreation destination social mecca, a driving economic force, as a haven for the wise-use and conservation of fish and wildlife resources, and as a foundation for community growth by serving as a drinking water source. Having surpassed its expected 100-year life span, Lake Wichita is no longer able to provide significant social, economic, ecological, or recreational benefits to the community. Having recently gone through a historic drought, we were able to see first-hand the fisheries habitat impairments that plague Lake Wichita. Siltation, degraded shoreline areas, loss of connectivity, excessive nutrients, lack of structural habitat, and lack of water coming from the watershed combine to cause Lake Wichita to cease to meet any of its intended purposes.

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7. Cathie Brown Streambank Stabilization and Habitat Project, Mulberry River, Oark, Arkansas

Project Submission by:

This project seeks to stop erosion, reduce sedimentation, reduce elevated water temperatures, and restore a riparian zone of the Mulberry River, a state-designated Extraordinary Resource Waterbody and nationally designated Scenic River. Restoration will take place on private property adjacent to US Forest Service (USFS) lands. This is a cooperative community project that will restore the streambank, reestablish the riparian zone 60 feet out into the floodplain, and educate citizens on water quality and river protection.

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8. Weber River, Utah (2012)

Project Submission by: The Western Native Trout Initiative & The Desert Fish Habitat Partnership

This project was funded to protect native fish species and improve water use efficiency for water companies in the Weber River drainage, Utah. It re-connects 17.5 river miles and allows native Bonneville Cutthroat Trout (Oncorhynchus clarki utah) and Bluehead sucker (Catostomus discobolus) to pass one mainstem diversion and two culvert barriers that had fragmented mainstem and spawning habitats in two tributaries. Both Bluehead sucker and Bonneville Cutthroat Trout have experienced extensive population declines and range contraction. In the Weber River, Bluehead sucker occur in three remaining fragmented reaches with the strongest population in the Weber River confined below the diversion structure. Allowing passage around this diversion provides Bluehead sucker access to canyon habitat. Large fluvial Bonneville Cutthroat Trout have been virtually eliminated from river mainstems rangewide, but still persist within isolated mainstem segments of the Weber River, unable to migrate back to spawning grounds in tributary streams. Each reach in the Weber River supporting these two species has been fragmented by mainstem diversions threatening the population resiliency, genetic diversity and long-term persistence of both species.

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9. Harpeth River, Tennessee (2012)

Project Submission by: The Southeast Aquatic Resources Partnership

The Harpeth River, one of the most ecologically, culturally, historically, and recreationally significant rivers in Tennessee, drains nearly 900 square miles in Middle Tennessee and flows through one of the fastest growing areas in the country. It is a state designated Scenic River in Davidson County and easily accessible from downtown Nashville.

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10. Table Rock Lake, Missouri (2012)

Project Submission by: The Reservoir Fish Habitat Partnership

Table Rock Lake and Lake Taneycomo are located in the White River Hills region of the Ozark Plateau along the Missouri-Arkansas border. At conservation pool, Table Rock Lake encompasses 43,100 acres with 745 miles of shoreline, and Lake Taneycomo covers just over 2,000 acres. Table Rock Lake is the second largest of five reservoirs in the upper White River drainage basin which covers over 5,000 square miles in both Missouri and Arkansas. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers estimates the recreational use of the lake at between 40 and 50 million visitor visits annually with the economic value of the fishery estimated at $41 million (1997 estimate). Along with the Branson tourism industry, Table Rock and the other White River impoundments are responsible for hundreds of millions of dollars pumped into the local economies.

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11. Alexander Creek, Alaska

Project Submission by: The Mat-Su Basin Salmon Habitat Partnership

Alexander Creek Watershed, a tributary of the Susitna River, and formerly significant sport fishing area. This system includes 690 acre Alexander Lake, 40 mile long Alexander Creek and tributaries to that system that cover hundreds of square miles in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough. Approximately 50 air miles northwest of Anchorage, the Alexander Creek Watershed is a remote and slow moving meandering river system with numerous tributaries and shallow lakes and ponds. It has thousands of acres of adjacent wetlands with side-sloughs and oxbow channels. In the late 1990s Alexander Watershed was highly productive Chinook and coho salmon habitat, and, arguably, the premier Chinook sport fishing area in the Matanuska-Susitna Valley. It supported what was likely a multi-million dollar salmon fishery with lodges, daily flight service and boat charters. Today, however, due to low returns, the Alexander drainage is closed to Chinook harvest, and is no longer the economic driver it once was. Fishermen today are motivated to travel to the remote lake to catch invasive northern pike, rather than salmon.

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12. Kasilof and Anchor River Watersheds, Alaska

Project Submission by: The Kenai Penisula Fish Habitat Partnership

The Kenai Peninsula Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration Project (Project) will help restore physical and biological processes within the Kasilof and Anchor River Watersheds in order to contribute to a healthy, productive and biologically diverse ecosystem for the benefit of injured species and services. This project addresses root causes to ecosystem impacts by eliminating four aquatic organism passage barriers in the Kasilof and Anchor River Watersheds in order to restore healthy ecosystems in these watersheds. This project builds on the long standings interest of multiple state and federal agencies and organizations (e.g. Kenai Watershed Forum, Trout Unlimited) to restore physical and biological processes within these and other watersheds on the Peninsula. This project supports the overarching stated goal of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council (EVOSTC) Restoration Program by providing benefits to injured resources and services, and helping to sustain healthy, productive ecosystems in order to maintain naturally occurring diversity.

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13. Kilchis Estuary, Oregon

Project Submission by:

Restore freshwater and tidal connections, provide off-channel rearing habitat for salmonids, and restore historic spruce swamp habitat. A primary limiting factor for salmonids in the Kilchis system is the availability of off-channel habitat in low-lying areas, especially habitat in the saltwater-freshwater transition zone of the estuary (Kilchis Watershed Analysis, Tillamook Estuaries Partnership 1998). The site provides habitat for coho, Chinook and chum salmon, steelhead and cutthroat trout as well as a myriad of other wetland species, including colonial nesting waterbirds, migrating waterfowl, juvenile marine fishes and resident mammals. Human alterations of the estuary (e.g., dredging, diking, draining, filling, dairy pasture creation, jetty construction, sedimentation) as well as species loss have resulted in loss of habitats and their associated biotic communities. Current restoration is aimed at increasing protections for existing salmonid core areas, restoring tidal marsh habitat, re-creating tidal channels and restoring connectivity between tidal sloughs and the Kilchis River. Past restoration efforts have occurred above the project site and complement existing restoration efforts.

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14. Lake Livingston, Texas

Project Submission by: The Reservoir Fish Habitat Partnership

Lake Livingston, TX is located on the Trinity River in Polk, San Jacinto, Trinity and Walker counties and has a surface area of approximately 83,000 acres with a maximum depth of 77 feet. The reservoir was constructed in 1971 and is located seven miles west of Livingston, TX, and is 50 miles north of Houston, a metropolitan center with 6.2 million people. For 10-15 years post-impoundment, Lake Livingston was a bass fishing destination with numerous regional and national bass fishing tournaments held on the lake. The fishery was an economic engine for the local economy. Sedimentation with its associated turbidity, along with extensive shoreline development have negatively impacted shoreline habitat for littoral fishes. In addition, invasive aquatic plants, hydrilla and giant salvinia have become established and have further impacted littoral fisheries habitat.

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15. Lower He’eia Stream, Hawaii

Project Submission by: The Hawaii Fish Habitat Partnership

This project will restore native vegetation in the tidally influenced portion of Heʻeia Stream and its adjacent estuary. Project implementation will involve removal of a large stand of invasive riparian trees, followed by soil preparation, erosion control and riparian forest restoration using native and Polynesian-introduced plant species. Several segments of Heeia Stream and the surrounding ahupuaʻa (watershed) are the focus of synergistic restoration efforts which can serve as a model for community-supported watershed restoration in Hawaii. The estuary project builds on this ongoing work (nearly 2-miles of riparian habitat restoration) lead by Hui O Ko'olaupoko and partners in the upper reaches of the stream. In addition, this project complements other fish improvement, habitat improvement and wetland restoration on adjacent properties immediately upstream. It is anticipated that upwards of 5,000 community volunteer hours will be contributed to the project from local community members, school groups and service organizations.

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16. Mill Creek, West Virginia

Project Submission by: The Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture

In 2012, the Mid-Atlantic Region, and in particular, West Virginia suffered great loss and damages from the Derecho in June and Super Storm Sandy in October. While these storms did billions of dollars of property and infrastructure damage, they also had profoundly detrimental impacts to streams. Many of West Virginia’s best brook trout streams have been covered densely in down and suspended trees offering no Large Woody Material benefits to fish and severely obstructing stream access for recreation and fishing. Along with suspended fallen trees in narrow valleys are large debris jams and exposed root wads that threaten damaging channel morphology impacts, bank erosion, and increased sedimentation.

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17. Pinole Creek, California

Project Submission by: The California Fish Passage Forum

The purpose of this project is to restore access to the upper reaches of Pinole Creek for the current population of Central California Coast Steelhead by modifying the existing box culverts where Pinole Creek passes under Interstate Highway 80 (I-80). Habitat assessments conducted on Pinole Creek in 2009 indicate sufficient habitat to support anadromous steelhead spawning and rearing if passage issues at the I-80 culvert are remedied. This project will improve access to nearly 7 miles of documented quality steelhead spawning and rearing habitat on the main stem of Pinole Creek.

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18. Shoshone Springs, California

Project Submission by: The Desert Fish Habitat Partnership

Shoshone pupfish are one of the most imperiled species in the Death Valley region due to their natural rarity, historic disruption of their habitats, lack of replication of the one remaining population, and genetic effects of small population size. Shoshone Spring and wetlands have been owned by one family for over 50 years. Endemic Shoshone pupfish were considered extinct by 1969, but rediscovered in a ditch near the springs in 1986. A single pond was built and stocked with 75 of these fish, believed to be the last of their kind. The purpose of the project was to construct two new additional habitats, one secluded in a mesquite bosque, and one in a landscaped tourist area. The project secured the existence of Shoshone pupfish in their native range far into the future, and will educate the public about their importance. The project quadrupled the habitat area occupied by endemic Shoshone pupfish, benefiting the entire known population in the one spring, springbrook, and spring supported riparian system where they naturally occur.

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19. Sun Creek, Oregon

Project Submission by: The Western Native Trout Initiative

Sun Creek originates on the southern slopes of Crater Lake National Park (CLNP) and was historically a tributary to the Wood River in the Upper Klamath Basin. Due to agricultural land use there have been extensive channel alterations over the last century and Sun Creek is no longer connected to the Wood River. A population of federally threatened bull trout (Salvelinus confluentus) inhabits Sun Creek and with aggressive management from CLNP, increased in abundance ten-fold in the last two decades. This project will reconnect Sun Creek to the Wood River, creating a migratory corridor for the isolated bull trout population and expanding available habitat for redband trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) already present in the Wood River. To accomplish this objective, a new Sun Creek stream corridor will be established, flow in the new channel will be increased by permanently transferring water instream, and diversions will be screened to prevent fish entrainment in irrigation ditches. This project represents a highly successful collaboration between federal, state, tribal, non-profit, and private entities.

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20. Ulele Springs (Hillsborough River), Florida

Project Submission by:

In 1907, the City of Tampa built a pumping station at Ulele Spring, near the banks of the Hillsborough River. In 1910 the Tampa Streetcar Company built the hub of Tampa’s streetcar system and this beautiful stretch of river quickly filled in with heavy industrial uses. A fish processing plant, a shipyard, a dredging operation and the City of Tampa’s Police Station and Maintenance Facility ultimately choked off access to the Hillsborough River for the surrounding neighborhoods and filled in the natural spring run. In 2010, a project was initiated by the Ecosphere Restoration Institute to recreate this natural spring run. Approximately 500 feet of stream was restored (the spring drained through a pipe) and the spring ‘boil’ and associated ecosystem was also expanded in size and enhanced. The engineering and design portion of this project was funded, in part, through the Southeast Aquatic Resources Partnership’s NOAA Community-based Restoration Program. Today, Ulele Spring’s shines as the focal piece of the City of Tampa’s new Water Work’s Park along the Riverwalk and is a natural feature that is drawing visitors world-wide to the area and enhancing, not only the habitat for fish and wildlife, but providing positive economic and recreational opportunities for years to come.

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21. Bear Creek, Colorado

Project Submission by: The Western Native Trout Initiative

The Western Native Trout Initiative funded Phases I and II that provided short-term immediate relief for sediment issue on Bear Creek in 2010 and 2011. These projects were meant to protect the Bear Creek Cutthroat habitat until a broader sediment control plan was in place. In 2013 WNTI funded a portion of Phase III, which, coupled with a National Fish and Wildlife Foundation grant, will provide permanent sediment control for the Bear Creek Greenback cutthroat trout, which have been recently considered the only remaining population of true native Greenback Cutthroat trout.

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22. Boardman River, Michigan

Project Submission by: The Great Lakes Basin Partnership

The nearly 300 square mile Boardman River watershed is located in Grand Traverse and Kalkaska Counties in northwest Michigan. With the exception of the extreme lower river and three impoundments, the Boardman is an oligotrophic river system with excellent water quality characterized by cold temperatures, high dissolved oxygen concentrations, and nutrients provided by allochthonous inputs. Of the approximately 179 miles of river and tributary streams in the Boardman system, 36 miles are designated as “Blue Ribbon” trout streams, providing premier fish habitat. Anglers from near and far come to enjoy the predominantly resident brook and brown trout fishery, providing important economic benefits to the region. The entire watershed is also used for activities such as canoeing, tubing, kayaking, hiking, hunting, and bird watching. These uses make it a destination for an estimated 2 million Recreational User Days annually.

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23. Eel River Delta, California

Project Submission by: The California Fish Passage Forum

Tidal marsh enhancement of habitat to benefit Pacific salmon, migratory waterfowl, Tidewater goby, Green sturgeon and scores of other species that once flourished in the Eel River Delta. Just as the Eel River Delta provides a rich habitat mosaic for abundant aquatic and terrestrial species, so too does it host flourishing agricultural communities, primarily dairy and beef cattle. All of the proposed projects underway in the Delta seek to reverse adverse drainage patterns that have resulted from more than a century of tidal marsh reclamation.

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24. Lake Bloomington, Illinois

Project Submission by: The Reservoir Fish Habitat Partnership

Lake Bloomington is located in central Illinois about 160 miles northeast of St. Louis and approximately 125 miles southwest of Chicago. It was constructed in 1929 by the impoundment of Money Creek. Lake Bloomington, as of 2007, has a surface area of 572 acres, 9.5 miles of shoreline, a maximum depth of 35 feet, a mean depth of 12.9 feet, and a storage volume of 6768 acre feet. The lake was constructed to expand the water supply for the City of Bloomington and several other small communities. To fully utilize the lake’s potential, recreation and residential development were established as second and third priority uses, respectively. The lake supports a diverse group of users including Camp Pearis, a Girl Scout Camp which houses over 1300 scouts during the summer and the Easter Seals Rehabilitation Center which serves over 1500 children with special needs annually.

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25. Montana Creek, Alaska

Project Submission by: The Mat-Su Basin Salmon Habitat Partnership

Mat-Su’s Montana Creek has been specified by the State of Alaska as important for the spawning, rearing, or migration of anadromous fish (AS 41.14.870). This alluvial system has high quality spawning gravels and provides critical spawning, rearing, and overwintering habitats for Chinook, coho, pink, and chum salmon. It receives heavy angling attention during the summer months and is the focus of a variety of ongoing habitat and fish assessment projects, streambank restoration activities, as well as parcel conservation activities and community asset planning. This water is also important to watch due to its location within the Mat-Su Basin, a fast-growing area in the state that currently has the most fish stocks of concern in Alaska. These stocks include Susitna River basin sockeye salmon and six stocks of Chinook, including Goose Creek Chinook (enters the Susitna just downstream of Montana Creek).

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26. Milltown Island Estuary, Washington

Project Submission by: The Pacific Marine and Estuarine Partnership

Milltown Island historically was an estuarine wetland and is located in the Skagit tidal delta. Restoration of this island was identified in the federally adopted Skagit Chinook Recovery Plan. Phased restoration began at the 212-acre Milltown Island in 2007 through the use of explosives to breach the dike surrounding the perimeter of the island. The primary purpose of restoration at Milltown is to increase rearing habitat capacity to natural origin juvenile Chinook salmon. Carrying capacity in the Skagit estuary is limiting the Chinook population to recover.

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27. Muddy River, Nevada

Project Submission by: The Desert Fish Habitat Partnership

The Muddy River Ecosystem Recovery project is designed to recovery the endemic Moapa dace (Moapa coriacea) and other native biodiversity dependent upon the Muddy River in southern Nevada. It is a basin wide recovery effort focused primarily on upstream portions of the river (springheads, springbrooks), but extending downstream nearly 30 km to Lake Mead.

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28. Nash Stream, New Hampshire

Project Submission by: The Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture

Historically, Nash Stream (NH) was known as a high quality wild Brook Trout stream that provided exceptional angling opportunities. Unfortunately, in 1969, the dam used to release water from Nash Bog Pond for log drives failed, sending a torrent of water akin to the 500-year flood event down Nash Stream. Immediately thereafter and in response to the dam failure, stretches of Nash Stream were straightened and its banks made higher by bulldozers. Consequently, much of the instream and riparian habitat was altered to the detriment of wild Brook Trout and other fish species. Additionally, many essential Brook Trout spawning tributaries were culverted with undersized pipes that impeded fish passage and/or have led to geomorphic instability.

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29. Tolomato River, Florida

Project Submission by: The Southeast Aquatic Resources Partnership & The Atlantic Coastal Fish Habitat Partnership

During the past two years, both SARP and ACFHP have supported marsh restoration/living shoreline projects on the Tolomato River in the Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve (GTMNERR). These adjacent projects are located on the southern portion of the Guana Peninsula and are helping to create a contiguous swath of restored marsh that is improving and enhancing fish habitat, preventing shoreline erosion, and fostering opportunities for community stewardship and involvement that will provide benefits for years to come. They are also helping to address national conservation goals, regional habitat priorities and coast wide conservation objectives identified by SARP and ACFP, and that are found in the Southeast Aquatic Habitat Plan (SAHP).

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30. Twelvemile Creek, Alaska

Project Submission by: The Southeast Alaska Fish Habitat Partnership

The Twelvemile Creek watershed encompasses 28 miles of salmon and other fish-bearing streams as well as 59 miles of additional streams covering an area just under 20 square miles in central Prince of Wales Island in Southeast Alaska. Logging practices that took place during the era when there was little protection for stream habitat and adjacent riparian vegetation left Twelvemile Creek Watershed in an impaired state. These practices included clear-cutting riparian corridors (areas adjacent to streams), removing large wood from the stream channels, extracting gravel from the stream to build roads, and yarding logs over the stream banks and through riparian vegetation.

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31. Balmorhea Springs, Texas

Project Submission by: The Desert Fish Habitat Partnership

Conservation Action: This spring system supports three endangered fish species and four species of concern. They are threatened by issues including complete dewatering, depletion of aquifers by groundwater pumping, conversion for agricultural or recreation use, and poor land management practices. Management of spring and ciénega systems requires a holistic, watershed approach with private, state, federal, and local partners to conserve, restore, and address threats to these important desert habitats. Project Partners: Desert Fish Habitat Partnership Texas Parks and Wildlife Department US Fish and Wildlife Service US Bureau of Reclamation The Nature Conservancy Dexter National Fish Hatchery and Technology Center Reeves County Water Improvement District Texas Department of Agriculture Environmental Protection Agency USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service Texas Agricultural Extension Service University of Texas at Austin University of Texas – Pan American Sul Ross University Texas Department of Transportation Texas Department of Criminal Justice Educational Foundation of America National Fish and Wildlife Foundation City of Balmorhea

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32. Lake Conroe, Texas

Project Submission by: The Reservoir Fish Habitat Partnership

The primary issue at Lake Conroe is the need to enhance littoral habitat including the native aquatic plant community while controlling invasive exotic aquatic vegetation. Lake Conroe has been in a state of flux since its impoundment in the late 1970’s with an early infestation of hydrilla followed by total removal of the aquatic plant community by 270,000 diploid grass carp stocked in the early 1980’s. Native vegetation restoration was begun in 1995 by Texas Parks and Wildlife (TPWD) and its partners, but increased nutrient loading caused by rampant urbanization along with attrition of the grass carp population led to a re-infestation of the reservoir by hydrilla and water hyacinth. In addition, the exotic aquatic fern, giant salvinia, was discovered in Lake Conroe in 2000. In 2006 TPWD, the San Jacinto River Authority (SJRA), the Lake Conroe Association (LCA), the Seven Coves Bass Club (SCBC), and other constituent groups created the Lake Conroe Habitat Management Plan for the control of exotic vegetation and the enhancement of the native aquatic plant community. Hydrilla, water hyacinth, and giant salvinia are now under control, but as a result of grass carp stockings as part of the integrated pest management (IPM) strategy, native vegetation was greatly reduced. In Phase 1 of the Lake Conroe Habitat Improvement Project (2005-2010) SCBC, SJRA, TPWD, and the US Army Corps of Engineers Lewisville Ecosystem Research Facility (LAERF) constructed a native aquatic plant nursery below the Lake Conroe Dam using grant funding provided by BASS; SCBC, SJRA, LAERF, and TPWD transferred approximately 2,500 mature plants from the nursery into Lake Conroe; and SJRA and LCA controlled approximately 2,000 acres of exotic vegetation including hydrilla, giant salvinia, and water hyacinth using a combination of herbicide, mechanical control, and grass carp introductions.

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33. Big Lake, Alaska

Project Submission by: The Mat-Su Basin Salmon Habitat Partnership

Big Lake, located in the fast-developing Mat-Su Basin, is a large well populated and heavily recreated lake in the growing community of Big Lake just west of the City of Wasilla. The lake itself, with 26 miles of shoreline, and two streams in its basin, are used by spawning sockeye and coho salmon each year, and host resident populations of Dolly Varden, Rainbow Trout, and other fish. Both Fish Creek, which drains directly into the Pacific at the Knik Arm of Cook Inlet, and Meadow Creek, a spring-fed system which empties into Big Lake, are important salmon waters with several active partner studies, angling recreation, water monitoring, and youth & community volunteers participating in hands-on restoration projects. This waterbody has been the centerpiece of the Big Lake Community's discussions in plans to expand, possibly incorporating as City, and in the oncoming construction of a rail spur connecting Port Mackenzie in the south to Alaska's Interior and the rest of 26,000 square miles Mat-Su Borough and industrial opportunities along the railway. The area is changing rapidly, and it is hoped that designation as a Water to Water 2013 will serve to celebrate and highlight many partners' efforts and projects towards a healthy development model embracing preservation of clean water and the integrity of fish habitat. Big Lake Community is working on a Community Impact Assessment Project with the Mat-Su Borough to address responsible growth, including habitat concerns.

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34. Bear River Estuary, Washington

Project Submission by: The Pacific Marine and Estuarine Partnership

Conservation Action: The Bear River Estuary Restoration project would restore 500 acres of high quality, estuarine habitat on the Willapa National Wildlife Refuge. Re-establishment of natural estuarine processes and habitats will benefit a diverse array of aquatic and avian species including marine invertebrates, salmon and trout, shorebirds, and waterfowl. Restoration will provide habitat for juveniles salmon, reconnect spawning streams for salmon and trout, and contribute to the overall health of Willapa Bay. Project Partners: Ron Craig, Craig Enterprises, Project Design John Evans, NDC Timber Western Washington Fisheries Resource Office and Columbia River Fisheries Office Friends of Willapa National Wildlife Refuge Willapa Fisheries Enhancement Group and the Salmon Recovery Funding Board AMEC Earth and Infrastructure, Inc. Herrera Environmental Ducks Unlimited. Sustainable Fisheries Foundation. Washington Coast Sustainable Salmon Partnership.

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Cape Fear

35. Cape Fear River, North Carolina

Project Submission by: The Southeast Aquatic Resources Partnership

Conservation Action: Located in a priority area identified in the North Carolina Department of Marine Fisheries Coastal Habitat Protection Plan, this project will restore .5 acres of fish habitat by placing approximately 1,000 tons of crushed granite (over 2,000 cubic yards, .5 acres downstream of lock and dam #2) in the Cape Fear River below Lock & Dam No. 2 in Bladen County. Currently, less than 35% of the fish population is able to reach historical spawning grounds. Project Partners: Cape Fear River Watch (CPRW) US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Southeast Aquatic Resources Partnership (SARP) National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), NC Division of Marine Fisheries (NCDMF), NC Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) Dial Cordy and Associates, Inc. (DC&A) Maritech Dredging US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Wilmington Division Martin Marietta Aggregates

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36. Chipola River, Florida

Project Submission by: The Southeast Aquatic Resources Partnership

Conservation Action: This project will result in 1.9 miles of stream bank restoration, removal of livestock from the river, and replacement of a perched culvert within the Chipola River for the benefit of shoal bass and imperiled mussel species.

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37. Grape Creek, California

Project Submission by: The California Fish Passage Forum

Conservation Action: Grape Creek is located in the Russian River watershed, the first Habitat Focus Area selected as part of NOAA's new agency-wide Habitat Blueprint initiative. Habitat Focus Areas are places where NOAA is pooling resources and expertise to maximize conservation of important habitat. This project will improve streamflow for endangered coho and threatened chinook salmon and steelhead trout in Northern California wine country. NOAA will take a similar approach in other watersheds in coastal California through the Water and Wine Stewardship program.

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38. Leech Lake, Minnesota

Project Submission by: Midwest Glacial Lakes Partnership

Conservation Action: This watershed includes 750,000 acres with 273 lakes. With steady population growth in the region and projected population increases of up to 50% by 2030, the lakes and streams in the watershed are under pressure from increased shoreline development. Conservation initiatives such as the establishment of Conservation Easements, and improving connectivity for fish in tributaries will benefit fish and fish habitats in the watershed.

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39. Millenium Reserve Initiative, Illinois

Project Submission by: Midwest Glacial Lakes Partnership

Conservation Action: This project is part of the President's Great Outdoors Initiative. The project seeks to transform the Calumet region of Chicago into a one-of-a kind open space destination. The environment will be improved by restoring 6000 acres of natural areas within the 140,000 acre project area, including 18,554 acres of wetlands and several lakes adjacent to and upstream of Lake Michigan, as well as Lake Michigan lakeshore. This project is currently the largest open space project in the country.

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40. Upper Tippecanoe River, Indiana

Project Submission by: Midwest Glacial Lakes Partnership

Conservation Action: The Tippecanoe Watershed Foundation created the Healthy Shorelines Initiative in 2011 to improve the quality and health of shorelines and lakes in the Upper Tippecanoe River Watershed, one of the Partnership's priority watersheds. The Foundation provides cost-share funds to landowners for shoreline projects that reduce erosion and nutrient loading from the shoreline, reduce wave action, and reduce scouring and re-suspension of bottom sediments, actions aligning with several of The National Fish Habitat Partnerships objectives.

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