WARSAW, Mo. — Dave Bolinger has been sinking brushpiles in nearby reservoirs for several years, but now a BASS grant is allowing his bass club to enhance the habitat of those same lakes on a grand scale.
As a volunteer for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Bolinger's duties include eliminating cedar trees from designated areas of Corps' lands around area lakes. Bolinger, the conservation director for the Benton County Bass Anglers, is spearheading the club's conservation project of sinking brushpiles constructed from the 1,000 cedar trees he and club members have cut down on the Corps' land.
The project received a boost last year when the club won a $500 grant from the Missouri B.A.S.S. Federation Nation. The money was part of the annual $1,000 habitat endowment check BASS awarded to the Missouri chapter. The habitat endowment program is funded by BASS and a $5 conservation checkoff donation anglers can make when they join BASS or renew their membership.
"The grant certainly allowed us to do this project on a larger scale," said Bolinger. "I was going to put in brushpiles anyway, but the grant helped me convince other people in the club to make it a larger effort."
The club is using the grant money to defray the cost of transportation and chainsaw maintenance. A company in Jefferson City donated cinder blocks for the project, but Bolinger said the club still incurred the gas expense of a 182-mile round trip to pick up and haul the blocks back to Warsaw.
Some of the club's brushpiles have been placed in Pomme de Terre Lake and the upper end of the Lake of the Ozarks, but most of the club's work is focused on Truman Lake. The aging impoundment still has plenty of flooded trees, but a lot of the timber has lost its fish-attracting branches. "It is at the age that what is left is standing pole timber, and a cedar tree lying on its side at the bottom of one of those makes the timber a whole lot better," said Bolinger.
The club bundles from one to four trees (depending on the size of the cedars) to make a brushpile. "We are cutting trees that are 14 to 15 feet tall," said Bolinger. Club members began their project last winter and have sunk 200 bundles in the area lakes.