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Sunday, October 2, 2016

PA adds more streams to wild trout list, thanks in part to TU efforts

PA adds more streams to wild trout list, thanks in part to TU efforts: The presence of young-of-year trout indicates wild trout reproduction in a wild trout stream.
The presence of young-of-year trout indicates wild trout reproduction in a wild trout stream. Robust populations of macroinvertabrate insects, such as the pictured mayfly nymph, can provide information about a stream's overall health.

By Mark Taylor

Pennsylvania’s formal list of Class A and wild trout streams keeps growing, and Trout Unlimited has been playing a big role in helping it happen.

On Sept. 27 the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission voted to add 99 streams to its list of wild trout waters.

TU has been participating in the state’s Unassessed Waters Initiative since 2011. TU and other partners in the initiative have sent teams afield to look for wild trout, sampling thousands of small streams. TU teams have sampled more than 600 streams.

Of the 99 streams approved during this most recent round of consideration, TU teams identified 13 that held populations of wild trout.

That included five in Northampton County, four in Monroe County, two in Schuylkill County and one each in Lehigh and Luzerne counties.

The PFBC also added four stream sections to its Class A wild trout waters list.

Listing of a stream section as wild trout water does not determine how the water is managed. However, the biological designation is among the factors the agency considers in its management approach to specific waters. Listed wild trout streams and their adjacent wetlands qualify for more stringent environmental protection.

Pennsylvania contains nearly 62,000 streams, but the PFBC staff has been able to conduct surveys on fewer than 6,000 of those waters, totalling 24,511 miles. That’s only 9 percent of the stream numbers and less than 30 percent of the stream miles that the agency is able to actively manage.

By partnering with the FBC, Trout Unlimited is providing critical assistance to the agency as it works to effectively manage the state’s vast water resources for stream health and recreational opportunities.

Trout unlimited interns Jacob Fetterman, Olivia Magni and Kat Midas electroshock a small Pennsylvania stream in search of wild trout this summer.
Trout Unlimited’s Unassessed Waters Initiative team, led by Kathleen Lavelle, was in the field again this summer, wading small streams with backpack electroshocking units and nets to scoop up temporarily stunned trout.
The crew surveyed 116 streams, focusing their efforts on streams in the West Branch Susquehanna watershed, as well is in the Delaware River watershed.
The group found trout in 40 percent of the streams in the Delaware, and most of those were wild brown trout. In the West Branch watershed, 30 percent of the streams held trout, mostly wild brook trout.
Lavelle said that about 15 percent of the streams in the West Branch were found to be impaired due to abandoned mine drainage.
TU will now pass this summer’s field survey information on to the PFBC, which ultimately may add those waters to the growing wild trout list.