Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks and Natural Resource Conservation Service employees along with the Muggli Fish Passage Project Manager and a local landowner recently received Outstanding Fishery Professional and Outstanding Group Achievement Awards from the Montana Chapter of the American Fisheries Society.
Fisheries biologist, Matt Jaeger stationed in Glendive was recognized for his commitment to hard work, innovative approaches, leadership skills and dedication to the lower Yellowstone River resources. He was selected as the Outstanding Fishery Professional.
Mr. Jaeger initiated a new era of research on the lower Yellowstone River fish ecology, sauger population estimation, pallid sturgeon recovery and ecology of the softshell turtle.
According to Travis Horton from the American Fisheries Society, “Matt Jaeger’s participation in the Upper Basin Pallid Sturgeon Workgroup has proved invaluable in advancing pallid sturgeon toward recovery goals. His tireless efforts in stocking, tagging and evaluating survival of hatchery-planted pallid sturgeon have moved pallid sturgeon closer to recovery. His ability to look at the bigger picture and cooperatively tackle issues while bridging agency differences has helped to advance the workgroup.” The Chapter went on to recognize his cooperative and organizational skills.
Brad Schmitz, Regional Fisheries Program Manager; Vic Riggs, Fisheries Biologist and Mike Backes, Fisheries Technician with Region 7, Fish, Wildlife and Parks were recognized for their efforts in constructing a fish passage around Twelve Mile Dam on the Tongue River. Local landowner Roger Muggli and Natural Resource Conservation Service employees Dave Pratt, Area Conservationist; Rusty Iron, District Conservationist and Dave Jewell, Senior Engineer along with project manager, Jim O’Donnell were also recognized for their successful participation in the fish passage project. They were selected to receive the Outstanding Group Achievement Award.
The 600-foot passage, completed in September of 2007, allows warm water fish to swim around Twelve Mile Dam onto their traditional spawning areas in the Tongue River for the first time since the dam was constructed in 1885. Fish, including: sauger, sturgeon, channel catfish, sucker and minnow species will benefit from the fish passage.
Landowner Roger Muggli mobilized a coalition of agencies and conservation groups: the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Natural Resource Conservation Service, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks and the irrigation district to cooperate and pool resources to construct the fish passage. The irrigation district donated the time and equipment, while the landowner adjacent to the dam provided access to the fish passage site.
The Chapter recognized all these people for their leadership, resourcefulness and creativity to solve a problem that has been in existence since the late 1800’s. The fish passage was named the “Muggli Fish Passage” in recognition of the tireless efforts and persistence of landowner, Roger Muggli.