Tribal Partnership Program (TPP): Lac Courte Oreilles Muskellunge Spawning Habitat Restoration

Updated September 2018
Published Oct. 1, 2018


Located in Sawyer County, Wisconsin, Lac Courte Oreilles (LCO) is a series of lakes that was once a highly productive wild rice water with copious amounts of fish. Within LCO, Musky Bay produced the most wild rice and served as the primary spawning habitat for muskellunge, which are native to LCO. The lake has been known for producing trophy-size fish, including a world record.

Importantly, wild rice and fish are highly prized main staples and sources of economic wealth for LCO tribal members. Both are required for traditional ceremonies.

Presently, due to eutrophication, the wild rice has almost completely disappeared and fish are disappearing within the boundaries of the LCO Reservation. Eutrophication, which occurs when a body of water becomes overly enriched with nutrients, has caused a dense growth of undesirable plant life and fish kills.

Additionally, known spawning areas in Musky Bay are now covered in a thick layer of unconsolidated sediment from poor land use practices. Initial data collection has validated that the conditions within Musky Bay has led to decreases in natural muskellunge reproduction.


A feasibility study is needed to evaluate various alternatives for the restoration of musky spawning habitat in Musky Bay in LCO. The alternatives to be evaluated must take into consideration the methods of achieving the final restoration. Planning level cost estimates need to be developed and used to compare and evaluate alternatives. The feasibility study will also identify data gaps and collect the data needed to complete the assessment of alternatives.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians expect to enter into a feasibility cost share agreement (FCSA) in September 2018. Upon execution of the FCSA and receipt of funding, the feasibility study can begin.


The Tribal Partnership Program (Section 203 of Water Resources Development Act 2000) authorizes activities related to the study, design, and construction of water resources development projects substantially benefitting Native American tribes. The non-Federal sponsor for this project will be the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians.


The cost of the study will be $250,000. Pursuant to Section 1156 of the Water Resources Development Act of 1986, Public Law 99-662 (33 U.S.C. 2310), the non-federal cost share requirements will be waived. The $250,000 cost will be fully federally funded.