GRDA Ecosystems Management: Rush For Brush

Volunteers help build artificial fish habitats during a previous GRDA Ecosystems' Rush For Brush event on Grand Lake.

For the past five years, the Grand River Dam Authority’s (GRDA) Ecosystems Management Department has hosted Rush for Brush workshops on Grand Lake and Lake Hudson.  

The workshops are a concentrated effort to improve the fish habitat in GRDA’s Grand and Hudson lakes. By enhancing the natural fish habitat with the artificial structures, or spider blocks, small fry are given a place to hide from the bigger fish. This, in turn, creates a fish attractant which is popular with area fishermen.  

“Our motivation was to supplement the natural fish habitat with artificial structures,” said Brent Davis, GRDA Fisheries Coordinator. “As a fisherman, I have actually made the habitats out of different materials and found that the way we make the spider blocks works the best and is by far the easiest. The cinder blocks are small, easy to handle and anyone can put them in their favorite fishing holes.”

At the workshops, GRDA provides the materials necessary to build the spider block habitats and lake area volunteers assemble them. Initially, the workshops were held over two days, with the volunteers building the habitats on Friday and picking them up for placement on Saturday. But, in 2009, in order to make the workshops available to more volunteers, it was changed to a one-day event.

“By holding one day events, on Saturday, we feel like we can accommodate more volunteers,” said Davis.

The success of the program can be seen in the growing number of volunteers that attend, as well as the number of habitats deployed. Since the program began, over five hundred volunteers have deployed more than 7,500 structures.

 “This has brought communities together working for a common cause, fish habitat,” said Davis. “Besides providing substantial benefits for fish and fishermen, one of the best things about it is that it doesn’t put anything harmful in the water.”

The popularity of the program has not been limited to the events or even the local area, it has received national attention.  According to Davis, phone calls from all over the United States have been answered. Callers want to know about materials, how to construct the blocks and what is the appropriate water depth to place them.

 “The most frequently asked questions, at our GRDA booths, have been about our Rush for Brush events.”

The event has proven to be successful in more ways than anticipated. It not only provides food and protection for fish, which means more catches than misses for fishermen. It also provides an opportunity for the GRDA Ecosystems Management Department to answer questions face to face, building stronger stakeholder relations. And it has had a positive economic impact on the area.

Be watching for more details on the 2012 GRDA Rush For Brush event, scheduled for Saturday, May 19 at Martin’s Landing, on Grand Lake, from 9AM to 6PM. You can also get more information by contacting GRDA’s Jacklyn Jaggars at (918) 782 4726.

Headquartered in Vinita, GRDA is Oklahoma’s state-owned electric utility; fully funded by revenues from electric and water sales instead of taxes. Directly or indirectly, GRDA’s low-cost, reliable; electricity serves nearly 500,000 homes in Oklahoma and stretches into 75 of 77 counties in the state. At no cost to Oklahoma taxpayers, GRDA also manages 70,000 surface acres of lakes in the state, including Grand Lake, Lake Hudson and the W.R. Holway Reservoir. Today, GRDA’s 500 employees continue to produce the same “power for progress” that has benefited the state for 75 years.
 
        — By Shannon Cook
          GRDA Communications Specialist 

# # #

This article is part of the GRDA Power For Progress series.