41 posts

Susquehanna River Impairment

The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission is having a disagreement with the state Department of Environmental Protection about the condition of the Susquehanna River. The PFBC says the river is in trouble and should be listed as “impaired,” which will put the river on a “pollution diet” and begin to address the problems. The DEP says there is no proof that the river’s problems are caused by any specific environmental issues. If you read the second link above, it sounds like the DEP may be waiting on more data from USGS and others before it moves on this issue.

We’ve had similar issues in the past seven years or so on the Shenandoah, James, Potomac and other large rivers in Virginia and Maryland. These issues with fish kills, lesions and intersex bass all seem to be caused by a bad combination of environmental factors. So when the DEP says they have no evidence to zero in on specific causes, they are probably correct — technically. And this, of course, misses the whole point.

If you live in Pennsylvania and are concerned about the health of the Susquehanna, read the articles above and contact your representatives.

TU and EJBT Using New Data to Protect Brookies in Appalachia

brook trout
Typical eastern mountain brook trout.

What, a new post???!!! I know, it’s been a while…

Good article on the Trout Unlimited blog about protecting brook trout in the Appalachians. Good news and bad news about the future of the only native trout in the eastern U.S.

Related article about Thorn Creek that is also interesting.

From the Field: Linking land and water in brook trout conservation from Chesapeake Bay Program on Vimeo.

Maine Brook Trout – Threats From Invasive Species On The Rise

Bucket biologists and other misguided people are contributing to major threats to Maine’s brook trout population by introducing bass, pike and other game fish to waters around the state. Maine has the most and highest quality brook trout watersheds in the United States, and these introduced species push out the brookies. Brook trout is the #1 game fish in the state and this contributes to Maine’s tourism industry. Unfortunately, other game fish would no doubt also contribute, with the result being the potential decimation of the east coast’s only native trout.

Join the Sea Run Brook Trout Coalition Today

The Sea Run Brook Trout Coalition is doing a membership drive right now. Sign up for an annual membership and you’ll automatically be entered into a drawing to win a James Prosek salter print. As you may know, the SRBTC is fighting to restore habitat for wild sea-run brook trout in southeastern Massachusetts and other parts of coastal New England where this sub-species of brook trout is hanging on.

Can Brook Trout Return to Jefferson County West Virginia?

Brook Trout DrawingStudents from Wildwood Middle School in Shenandoah Junction, West Virginia are looking into the possibility of reintroducing brook trout to the panhandle of West Virginia. Brook trout were extirpated from the eastern panhandle of the state some time ago (trying to find out exactly when is typically difficult) due to development and habitat loss, the usual stuff. However, it appears that some streams and forests have come back enough to at least make the study of reintroduction worthwhile.

This program has some strong local support from people like Kelly’s White Fly Shop in Shepherdstown, WV, the Winchester Virginia Trout Unlimited chapter, local guide and fly casting instructor Dusty Wissmath, and others.

You can follow their progress on the Wildwood Middle School blog.

Full of a Wildness That Cannot Protect Itself…

Colorful Brook Trout Released
Typical Shenandoah National Park Brook Trout

From a piece by Nick Lyons, “Following a Fluid Trail Even Higher,” originally published in the New York Times “Outdoors” column on February 22, 1996 and reprinted in the excellent book of essays, Upriver and Downstream. His curiosity compelled him to trace the trails of rivers and reservoirs feeding New York City, further and further upstream, into the Catskills and to the headwaters streams that hold what are, in too many places, the last of our native brook trout:

These are wild brook trout — five, six, sometimes eight inches, on rare occasions a foot long. They have flanks as smooth as an otter’s skin, a dark mottled back, rose marks the color of wild strawberries, and striped fins. They wiggle like live jewels when you hoist them out of the water.

Greedy and wanton to their near extinction, vulnerable, full of a wildness that cannot protect itself, these fish are the ultimate symbol of piscatorial wildness, and it delights me to catch a dozen on barbless hooks and slip them swiftly back into their element. When I first climbed to the fountainhead of all city water and saw them, I stopped thinking of exotic Canadian fish and knew I had found a quiet place that satisfied all my longings.

Little do these diminutive flashes of light and color know the fate, downriver, of the precious, pure liquid in which they flourish. Little do they care — so long as it is there, so long as the great cities do not drink them into extinction. They are beautiful, rare creatures that dance in my head and I think of them even now, in the dead of winter, every time I turn on and turn off the faucet.

For people who cannot comprehend why anyone goes to the lengths they go in order to catch these little fish, this passage may help reveal what captures the imaginations of those of us who do this. Or maybe not, in which case a lot of hope for humanity is simply gone.

Mill Pond Dam on Martha’s Vineyard and Sea Run Brook Trout

From an article last month in the Martha’s Vineyard Times about the Mill Pond dam and its effect on native fish:

The town of West Tisbury is currently investigating what should be done at the site of the town-owned Mill Pond, the last of seven manmade impoundments in the Mill Brook before it empties into Town Cove of Tisbury Great Pond less than a half mile to the south.

What to do, what to do. They’re still in the evaluation stage and it’s unclear (to me) if dam removal is on the agenda or if it would even affect the herring and native sea-run brook trout that inhabit the area. Something to keep an eye on.


Restoring Brook Trout to Their Rightful Place in South Carolina

South Carolina DNR

I missed this story last month about the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources restoring eastern brook trout in mountain streams in the Jocassee Gorges area. Great account of how the state government, Duke Energy and a group of conservation organizations are working together to make this happen.

“‘There is a big hole there,’ [Dan Rankin, fisheries biologist with the SC DNR] said, ‘where brook trout should be, but they’re not.’

“Rankin thinks that forest management practices of the early 1900s, when timber companies did not abide by Best Management Practices that are now in place to protect water and soil, contributed to the absence of brook trout in the region. But whatever the cause, Rankin and a coalition of government agencies and private conservation organizations are working to bring the Eastern brook trout back to the mountain streams that it historically inhabited in the Jocassee Gorges.”

And it all concludes with a sordid tale of woolly adelgids murdering hemlocks, which were then used to create better habitat for the fish. A must read!