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 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.
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.
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.”
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.
Read more about the Joint Venture’s ten year success story.
Read other blogs on celebrating the Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture