Iowa fisheries biologist Mike Hawkins has been awarded the Fisheries Biologist of the Year by the Midwest Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies for his work in lake restoration, watershed management and his leadership in getting the electric fish barrier placed at the outlet from Lower Gar Lake.

Member states of the Midwest Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies include Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio and Canadian provinces Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario.

Hawkins is the Iowa Department of Natural Resources fisheries management biologist working out of Spirit Lake Hatchery for the nine-county region in northwest Iowa.

Hawkins was recognized for his successes that include a significant renovation of the 1,100-acre Lost Island Lake.

The Lost Island Lake renovation project included adding water control structures to connected marshes and installing fish barriers to prevent carp migration to the marshes to spawn; working with a commercial fishing company to remove hundreds of thousands of pounds of adult carp and aggressively stock predators to help control recently hatched carp. He also worked with landowners in the watershed to create a management plan to reduce harmful runoff from entering the lake.

Water quality improved substantially and anglers have returned, spending nearly 15,000 hours fishing during the summer of 2012.

Hawkins received the Ace Cory Conservation Award from the Okoboji Protective Association for his efforts to construct the electric fish barrier at the outlet of the Spirit Lake-Okoboji chain to prevent unwanted invasive carp species from entering the lakes during flood events.

He also led a multi agency project with South Dakota to replace the severely damaged low head Klondike Dam on the Big Sioux River in Lyon County.

The dam was replaced with arched rapids that provide necessary upstream water elevation while allowing fish migration and eliminated safety concerns about the low head dam.

Hawkins also installed the Iowa DNR’s first-ever low power AM travelers radio station broadcasting aquatic invasive species messages and other boating and fishing information from the Spirit Lake Hatchery.