Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Bessemer students build fish habitat

BESSEMER - Dave Rowe, A.D. Johnston High School science teacher for the past 27 years, combined with the muscle and brains of his students, is working at creating a fishable pond in Bluff Valley Park.

On Tuesday, Rowe presented the Bessemer City Council with an update on the work and a formal thanks for allowing the students to study in the park.

Rowe said, "In one way or another I have been bringing my classes to the park every year for my entire teaching career," before elaborating on their leaf collecting and sampling, water sampling, and identification and eradication of invasive species in Bluff Valley Park over the years.

Rowe did not leave out the one thing humans, excluding most Boys Scouts, do, which is leave trash wherever they might be. He said his classes pick up more than their fair share of trash.

About three and half years ago, Roger Greil, aquatic lab manager at Lake Superior Sate University, contacted Rowe and asked, "If I could plant fish in the pond at the park, would your classes be able to use the pond and what would you like to do?"

Rowe said he told Greil he loved the idea and he would like to practice capture/recapture population assessments.

With that is mind, Rowe began studying the pond with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, LSSU, the Gogebic Conservation District, U.S. Forest Service and city of Bessemer.

Rowe and his son, Tad, who also briefed the council on the 2017 results, said what he hopes to see in the future is the pond drained and excavated to at least 18 feet deep.

Beyond the added depth, Rowe wants to improve the habitat upstream, as well as in the pond, so species can get stocked in the pond and create a fishery for people, as well as a living laboratory for the students of Bessemer.

In October, MDNR fisheries biologist Brad Schusta helped the students catch fish in nets for them to tag as part of a fish census and study of the health of the pond.