Large Woody Debris

Restores Whittlesey Creek

Placing logs and other large woody debris in Whittlesey Creek in Wisconsin has restored a more natural flow to the river and provided habitat for fish and wildlife.


Fallen trees and logs might not seem like a good thing to have in a creek, but they provide a valuable service for the habitat. During heavy rains and floods, the wood gives shelter to aquatic life, catches and filters gravel and sediment, and creates a more complex flow of water with pools and riffles. Too much sediment was finding its way into the Whittlesey Creek, a tributary to the Chequamegon Bay of Lake Superior. Engineered log jams introduced to the creek in 2011 and 2012 helped restore natural habitat and filter sediment. The placement of the logs helped to increase the complexity of the channel, creating a variety of habitats for micro- and macroinvertebrates, such as crayfish, beetles, snails, and dragonfly larvae. Fish health is being monitored to understand which populations have benefited from the project.

Resource Challenges Addressed

  • Lack of native habitat
  • Sediment build up

Results and Accomplishments

Adding 210 logs to the Whittlesey Creek has restored the streambed to a more natural state and created a variety of habitats. The addition of woody debris has filtered sediment, protected fish eggs, and stopped macroinvertebrates from being smothered. This debris has also allowed pools and riffles to form, expanding the type of habitat available to aquatic life.


Workers place large tree stumps and other woody debris in Whittlesey Creek.

Workers position a log in the stream channel, which will help prevent sedimentation and provide habitat for fish and wildlife. Photo credit: Inter-Fluve, Inc.