Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Trout Unlimited Plays Key Role In Unassessed Waters Initiative

By David Kinney, TU Eastern Policy Director

Not long ago, Trout Unlimited volunteers and other groups representing sportsmen and women beat back a legislative proposal that would have made it more difficult for Pennsylvania to build a comprehensive list of wild trout streams deserving conservation.
Now, that success is translating into important on-the-ground protections.
Over just the past two years, Pennsylvania has protected nearly 1,000 new wild trout stream sections, including 180 new Class A waters.
Credit goes to the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission, which has prioritized science-based documentation of naturally reproducing trout populations in the state’s 86,000 miles of streams and rivers.
Once these populations are identified through the Unassessed Waters Initiative, they can be conserved.
Trout Unlimited has played a key role throughout the eight-year history of the program. Every summer, staff biologists and interns canvas streams in the Susquehanna and Delaware watersheds searching for undocumented wild brook, brown, and rainbow trout populations. About 40 percent of the time, they find them.
“The Unassessed Waters Initiative has been extremely valuable to TU’s overall mission of protecting and restoring cold- water fisheries,” said Shawn Rummel, field and research manager for TU’s Pennsylvania Coldwater Habitat Restoration Program.
“It has provided valuable data to determine where wild trout populations exist,” he added. “These data have not only led to increased protection for those streams, but have also provided valuable information for the development of watershed restoration plans. We use the data to prioritize culvert replacement work, and have incorporated it into TU’s conservation planning for water quality and habitat improvement projects throughout the state.”
TU volunteers play a critical role in this process by submitting public comments in support of these waters.
The process is simple. Every quarter, the PFBC posts a list of about 100 proposed new wild trout stream sections. For 30 days, citizens have a chance to make their voices heard. TU creates maps showing the locations of these waters. The public comments are compiled by PFBC and shared with every member of the Commission before the vote.
Over the past two years, TU volunteers have helped generate more than 800 support letters to send to the Commission, demonstrating the unflagging support from sportsmen and women for the protection of Pennsylvania’s 15,000 miles of wild trout streams.
These waters receive regulatory protections in the Commonwealth.
When a project is proposed that may affect an officially designated stream, developers must take those wild trout populations into account.
Water quality in Class A streams may not be degraded by a project; wetlands connected to a wild trout stream may not be damaged. Another 20,000 miles of tributaries receive the same protections.
Some of these are prized fishing destinations, such as Penns Creek, where another 3.8-mile stretch was upgraded to Class A in July 2018. Nearly 30 miles of this legendary stream is now protected, and PFBC is proposing to add a new Catch and Release section.
Public comments are being accepted through September 19 at the Fish and Boat Commission website.
Many other stretches of wild trout water are tiny unnamed tributaries that provide critical habitat for spawning and thermal refuge.
These streams, though different in setting, have one thing in common: The water quality is good enough to negate the need for supplemental hatchery trout, thus allowing for a completely wild trout fishing experience.
PFBC has an opportunity to do even more to protect these waters.
Twelve designated Class A sections of streams throughout the state continue to receive trout stockings, and thousands of miles of designated Wild Trout Streams receive hundreds of thousands of stocked trout annually.
By ending these stockings, the cash-strapped PFBC could save money-- and give the fishery a boost by allowing these wild trout to thrive without competition from hatchery stock.
Pennsylvania’s systematic effort to locate and conserve these populations is something TU holds up as a model in neighboring states where we are working to fill data gaps in our knowledge of where trout populations thrive, including West Virginia.
Several hundred streams are awaiting action by PFBC over the coming year. Help us ensure that they get the protections they deserve.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me at, or Rob Shane, Mid-Atlantic Organizer, at, to talk about how to help with this or other efforts in Pennsylvania.
For more information on programs, initiatives and upcoming events, visit the PA Council of Trout Unlimited website.  Click Here to sign up for regular updates (top of page).  Like them on Facebook.  Follow PATU on Twitter.   Click Here to become a member.  Click Here to support their work.
(Reprinted from the Summer 2018 Pennsylvania Trout newsletter, PA Council of Trout Unlimited.)

No comments :

Post a Comment

Subscribe To Receive Updates:

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner