Tag Archives: eastern brook trout

Unleash the trout: impaired stream ready for brook trout

Today we’re sharing a story written by reporter Karen Blackledge of The Danville News from Pennsylvania’s Central Susquehanna Valley. The news story features our efforts to assist private landowners in restoring homes for wildlife, including the eastern brook trout!


Thanks to habitat restoration, brook trout like this one will soon make their home in Limestone Run, a tributary of the West Branch Susquehanna River. Credit: Jaime Masterson/USFWS

LIMESTONEVILLE — For the first time ever, wild brook trout will soon be swimming in Limestone Run.

They are part of a stream restoration project in the works for  about 15 years, said Sean Levan, district manager and bay technician at the Montour County Conservation District.

He and other officials Wednesday showed work done on the farm of Jeff Smith where the state Fish and Boat Commission plans to release about 150 trout Oct. 7. They will range from fingerlings to about 9 inches long.

Dave Keller, a habitat manager, said there is no record of wild brook trout ever being in the stream. “The temperature in the last four years has been conducive to them surviving in the stream,” he said of the only trout native to Pennsylvania which is losing its foothold in habitats in the state.


Logs have been placed alongside and in Limestone Run to improve habit for insects, fish and other life. Photo courtesy of Karen Blackledge, The Danville News.

He said the drought shouldn’t affect introducing them to the stream.

Andy Shiels, director of fisheries for the fish and boat commission, expects multiple releases of fish for several years. They will remove fish from other streams.

Limestone Run, which is considered an impaired stream by the Environmental Protection Agency due to agriculture practices, currently has fish considered bait fish for wild brook trout.

Mark Roberts, of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said numerous partners, including federal and state agencies, nonprofit organizations, the Montour County Conservation District and universities, worked on the project to create buffer trees to keep cattle out and to install logs around the stream and in the stream.


Mark Roberts of our Pennsylvania field office stands by Limestone Run. Photo courtesy of Karen Blackledge, The Danville News.

Smith was one of the first farmers to work with the groups on creating shade to keep temperatures down in Limestone Run, he said. The logs create deeper pools and places for fish to hide.

Roberts credited the landowners along the run with working with them. “Without them, it would not have been possible,” he said of the voluntary program.

“It’s great to see where this has come,” said Levan who has been part of the project for 11 years.

He said the Chillisquaque-Limestone Watershed Association “got the ball rolling.” Tom Benfer, who taught biology and has a small farm betwen Exchange and White Hall, serves as president.

There is only one farm remaining with animals having access to the run and it is in Northumberland County, he said.

Jason Fellon, watershed manager with the state Department of Environmental Resources, said the the types of insects found in the run shows the quality is improving. The run is now impaired by too much sediment from embankment erosion, he said.

Levan said the work wasn’t expensive with the hemlock logs at $55 each and logs totaling 175 along with 200 tons of rock used. The Fish and Wildlife Service provided equipment with labor done by interns, Fellon said.

LeVan said the project was to improve the stream, from Seven Springs Farm in Montour County and continuing to Milton borough in Northumberland County, began with a biology teacher at Milton High School.

“The biggest thing was talking with landlowners who were willing to work with us,” he said of at least a dozen farmers whose properties are along the stream.

Another important part was working with Milton officials concerning Brown Avenue Park where kids now fish for trout.

“It’s great to see that many people working together,” he said.

Buffers and trees have been planted to keep animals out of the stream. Logs in the stream provide more oxygen and shaded areas.

The partners hope to create an environment for wild trout to reproduce. Next year, they will return to shock the water so the fish come to the surface. They will identify them and count them.

“We will see how they survived the year,” Levan said.

The stream currently is home to warm water fish including suckers, black- and red-nosed daces, shiners and chubs. He said they will be able to live in a now cooler stream and use the structures in place. “They improve the water quality of all fish there,” he said.

Besides landowners, partners in the Limestone Run Watershed include Mike Yeage and Karen Avery of Milton High School, the Chillisquaque/Limestone Watershed Association, DEP Growing Greener, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, state Fish and Boat Commission, Renee Carey of the Northcentral PA Conservancy, Montour County Conservation District, Northumberland County Conservation District, Natural Resource Conservation Service, Susquehanna University and Bloomsburg University.

The Limestone Run work is the 10th project since the partnership began seven years ago of the state Department of Envrionmental Protection, fish and boat commission and conservation organizations.

More than 90 projects have been completed along nearly seven miles of agricultually impaired streams in North Central Pennsylvania. They won a Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence in 2014.

Check out the original story on The Daily Item’s website. You can reach the writer at  kblackledge@thedanvillenews.com.

Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture turns 10!

The Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture recently held its 10-year anniversary recognition meeting in West Virginia. Today, fisheries biologist Catherine Gatenby shares her story about the partnership’s conservation journey, and highlights many of the natural resource accomplishments achieved during the past decade.


The Eastern brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) are an American symbol of pristine wilderness. Photo credit: Robert S. Michelson of Photography By Michelson, Inc.Brook trout

The Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture (EBTJV) is celebrating its 10th year this fall.  This National Fish Habitat partnership is going strong – protecting water quality and restoring healthy populations of wild native brook trout in the Eastern United States.EBTJV_10TH_anniv_photo_at_NCTC[1]

The partnership is made up of more than 370 agencies, organizations and citizens from Maine to Georgia. During the past decade, EBTJV projects have opened and restored more than 400 miles of river to wild brook trout. That distance equates to 7,392 football fields lined up end zone to end zone! The work has also restored nearly 500 acres of brook trout habitat (imagine 245 soccer fields).  That’s a lot of space to fish, play or swim.


Lynn Camp Prong is now home to the greatest brook trout population in the Great Smoky National Park. Photo credit: National Park Service


Anglers benefit from the work of the Joint Venture when brook trout habitat is restored to its natural state. Photo credit: U.S. Forest Service

Why all the attention on brook trout? In past centuries, brook trout reigned in eastern rivers and streams. Today, less than 9 percent of their historic habitat is intact. Most brook trout can be found only in headwater streams, where forest cover helps maintain the cool temperatures they need, river water is clean and well-oxygenated, and there is plenty of food.

“The eastern brook trout really is an American symbol of pristine wilderness and our national fishing heritage,” says Callie McMunigal, who leads brook trout projects for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “They also are excellent indicators of clean water and a healthy environment, and their disappearance indicates environmental decline. Through the EBJTV and the Service, we are improving water quality in streams and rivers by reducing sedimentation caused from erosion, reducing runoff of contaminants and increasing natural filtration around rivers.”


Before photo: This culvert in Long Mountain Brook, Coos County, NH impeded access to eastern brook trout’s native habitat. Photo credit: EBTJV


After photo: This culvert replacement project in Long Mountain Brook, Coos County, NH (part of the Nash Stream watershed) has greatly improved habitat for the eastern brook trout. Read more on the Nash Stream Restoration Effort in the 2014 list of Ten Waters to Watch; Photo Credit: EBTJV












Steve Perry is Coordinator for the Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture  and retired Inland Fisheries Division Chief for New Hampshire Fish and Game (he’s also a master angler!). Steve says he got hooked on the idea of forming the partnership in 2004, when he was part of a group of people with phenomenal passion and commitment for conserving brook trout.

“The enthusiasm generated during that initial meeting has propelled us to making this partnership into reality,” he says, adding that the common vision of the group and a “big picture” assessment of the brook trout’s rangewide status provided the scientific foundation for the partnership’s success.

“The assessment really showed us how things looked and what needed to be done,” Steve says. “It paved the way for the adoption of a series of conservation priorities that could be addressed at regional, state, and local levels, giving everyone a seat at our partnership’s table.”

Since the partnership formed a decade ago, it has grown from 50 to more than 300 partners today.

Steve predicts “the best is yet to come.”

Next steps? The EBTJV will continue to play an active role in landscape-scale conservation efforts, coordinating with other partnerships, such as the Appalachian and North Atlantic Landscape Conservation Cooperatives. These science-based cooperatives are producing models and other tools to help resource managers do the right work in the right places to achieve the best results.

EBTJVInfographicFinal_8.5x11 (2)

Our restoration success stories have created $232 million in economic benefits and other impressive milestones as illustrated in the colorful infographic. Credit: USFWS

Learn more about National Fish Habitat Partnerships
Learn more about Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture.

Read more about the Joint Venture’s ten year success story.

Read other blogs on celebrating the Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture

Mike Slattery holding up a fish.

“Meat fisherman” for conservation

Chesapeake Bay coordinator Mike Slattery holds a brook trout from Savage

Chesapeake Bay coordinator Mike Slattery holds a brook trout from Savage River in Maryland, which drains to the Bay. Credit: Alan Klotz, Maryland DNR.

“Meat fisherman” – it’s a label I once wore with unabashed pride. My Dad’s childhood friend called me that after the second day fishing Hudson Brook for native brookies near North Adams, Mass. He and my Dad had fished this brook throughout their lifetimes, hunting and fishing every chance they could.

The creel limit was 12 fish, equal in number to the years I’d lived by 1976. I had no sense of etiquette as I hard-charged from boulder to boulder flipping worms into crystal pools with my ultra-light and ripping fish after fish from water.

But times change, and people change.

Now, I wouldn’t dream of catching, killing and eating 12 brook trout a day. They’re in trouble, and in dire need of conservation attention.

Today, as Chesapeake Bay coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, I support the work of 27 Service offices in the 64,000-square-mile Chesapeake watershed.

We work together and with partners to integrate work priorities and to develop and support a unified habitat conservation framework.

We think of species like brook trout, blue crabs, woodcock, black ducks, striped bass and shad as indicators of the health and viability of Chesapeake landscapes and of the fish and wildlife populations in those landscapes.

Brook trout
“Once there were brook trout in the streams in the mountains. You could see them standing in the amber current where the white edges of their fins wimpled softly in the flow. They smelled of moss in your hand. Polished and muscular and torsional. On their backs were vermiculate patterns that were the maps of the world in its becoming. Maps and mazes. Of a thing which could not be put back. Not made right again. In the deep glens where they lived all things were older than man and they hummed of mystery.”

– Cormac McCarthy, The Road

These are species people care about, and they can represent the needs of other important species that depend upon similar conditions and processes. By targeting our actions to conserve habitat for these species, and by tracking the health and status of them, we hope to deduce the status of other species that are important to people as well.

The range of the Eastern brook trout stretches from the southern Appalachians into Canada. A century of decline has resulted in lost economic revenues and lost recreational fishing opportunities, along with the loss of other ecological health and functions in cold, clear, fast-flowing headwater streams. Without help, fishery managers agree that within 20 years, brook trout numbers might only support a relic fishery, the value of which may be rich in nostalgia, but poor economically. It’s even thought that brookies are at risk of qualifying for “threatened” status regionally in the rivers and streams feeding the Chesapeake in 30-40 years.

So connecting Chesapeake headwater communities and the people who live in them to the work of Chesapeake Bay Program agencies, through a shared commitment to brook trout conservation, seems an obvious choice.

Mike Slattery holding fish.

Chesapeake Bay coordinator Mike Slattery holds up a striped bass with celebrity biologist Jeff Corwin while fishing near the Bay’s Poplar Island. Credit: Mike Deckelbaum, Maryland DNR.

My beginnings as an outdoorsman fishing Hudson Brook were immature and a little undignified by many conservationists’ standards today. Heck, I was a kid. But I was in the company of men offering to share a common bond – sacraments of the Earth, of sporting traditions, and of conservation honor-bound.

Experiences like that helped shape lifelong recreation and lifestyle choices, my academic path, and my career.

I do what I do so my children and grandchildren may have opportunities, as I have, to experience wild things and wild places in very personal and individual ways, to forge personal and individual connections to the natural world, and to be physically, emotionally and spiritually enriched and rejuvenated by it.

One day, I hope to be judged as having been useful, having been helpful to my colleagues and partners in conservation, and having made a lasting contribution to our conservation mission. I’d take even greater pride in a label like that.