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Brainards Bridge reopens

The island restoration work at Brainards Bridge Park is completed after a season of earth, rock and tree moving. Erosion was slowly washing away the islands. Wildflowers and tree were planted and dead ash trees were removed. Submitted Photo

Islands in park saved

The makeover at Brainards Bridge Park is complete other than letting some tree seedlings and prairie wildflowers to take root.

Throughout the spring, a DNR fisheries crew moved rock and sediment to prevent erosion around the photogenic islands that are the main attraction to the park. The islands were slowly washing away.

Kyle Kossel, the crew leader, studied old photographs to better understand how the river flowed over the years. Without intervention, the islands would get smaller and smaller.

The islands gained some size as the shorelines were reinforced. Besides rerouting the braided currents, the crew also felled numerous ash trees that were killed by the emerald ash borer, a destructive invasive beetle that has wiped out thousands of ash trees in the Waupaca River watershed. They repurposed the ash trees to create large woody debris habitat for trout.

The Waupaca Parks and Recreation Department partnered with the Chain Exploration Center for a field day with first and second graders. They learned about erosion and erosion control and planted prairie plugs along the shoreline. With the DNR crew, they released trout into the stream for the start of the general inland trout season.

This project was made possible with grant awards from the Bass Pro Shop and Cabela’s Outdoor Fund and the Fund for Lake Michigan, part of the Greater Milwaukee Foundation.

“These two grants provided enough funding to move this project forward and also allowed us to replace trees removed for the purpose of this project and trees that were removed due to invasive species. This park will continue to be a destination park for years to come thanks to these generous awards,” said Laura Colbert, the Waupaca Parks and Recreation director.

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