League of Kentucky Sportsmen Gives KDFWR two major pieces of habitat equipment

League of Kentucky Sportsmen gives

KDFWR equipment barge and telehandler


The League of Kentucky Sportsmen used revenue generated by its Kentucky license plate sales to purchase and donate two pieces of serious habitat management equipment to the Department.

KDFWR submitted to the League of Kentucky Sportsmen a list of equipment needs for consideration concerning a donation from HILAF to the KDFWR Fisheries Division.

In response, LKS donated a new telehandler that will allow staff to move and distribute heavy, habitat structures to water bodies across the state. 

Large tree stumps, wooden and evergreen tree pallets tied to several concrete blocks, and fabricated plastic trees with heavy weights attached are some of the heavy, awkward structures that require large equipment. The telehandler combines the strength of a backhoe and a forklift with an additional ability to reach out and lower habitats onto our barges and pontoon boats.  

The telehandler will help KDFWR successfully restore fish habitat in Kentucky lakes and will help us to provide anglers with healthy sport fish populations for years to come.

The LKS and Department also dedicated a new equipment transportation and habitat barge for use primarily in the management of Duck Island.

Duck Island is a 400 acre island within Lake Barkley and part of Lake Barkley Wildlife Management Area.  Depending on the year, there can be 40 -100 tillable acres of the island that is accessible by tractors and implements. 

The island is susceptible to growing season flood events since the protective levee is overtopped when the lake level is reaches 2.7 feet over summer pool. 

Habitat management activities are primarily water level manipulation and soil disturbance.  Soil disturbance is critical for proper moist-soil management as well as the planting of cereal grains. 

Given the need to keep the island in an early successional state and maintain area levees and structures, the ability to transport equipment to and from the island is critical.  Over time, the lake continues to fill with silt, resulting in shallower water depths at key access points. 

The new barge replaces an aging barge that is inadequate for transporting the agency’s backhoe to the island because it drafts too much water when the lake is low. 

The new, larger barge will draft much less water, which extends our ability to complete habitat management activities well into the future.  We can move equipment at any time regardless of the lake level. The larger vessel will allow the agency to move larger equipment if needed. 

In the past, we were limited to about 20,000 pounds capacity.  A 60,000 pound load on the new barge will require only 1 foot of additional draft.  In the past, we were unable to move an excavator to the island.  We will now have that ability.

We always will have challenges and obstacles with dynamic lake levels and soil moisture conditions, but equipment transportation to and from the island will be safe and efficient.

The loss of fish habitat is one of the largest threats to fisheries nationwide, and in Kentucky most of our aging lakes are losing aquatic habitat and structure through degradation, erosion, and siltation.  Habitat availability is one of the key/basic requirements for the health and survival of all aquatic biota, and it greatly affects fish populations.

Angler success increases in concert with habitat availability since structure can be targeted when fishing, and sport fish orient themselves in and around habitat structure.

Physical habitat is critical to sport fish at all stages of life.  Young fish use habitat as protective nursery areas, avoiding predation by larger fish. 

In addition, growth of algae on these structures attracts forage for these young fish.  Mature sport fish also benefit from fish habitat through the attraction of baitfish, which the larger fish will feed on. Physical habitat structures also provide fishing locations for anglers, and without it, lakes with limited habitat become difficult to fish as many sought-after sport fish species are habitat oriented.  Anglers are left trying to fish “barren” shoreline with limited or random success.