It's been ten years since the founding members of the Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture first established a successful and flourishing partnership. Fisheries biologist, Catherine Gatenby, Ph.D. 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, their projects have opened and restored more than 400 miles of river to wild brook trout. That's equivalent to 7,392 football fields lined up end zone to end zone! They also restored nearly 500 acres of brook trout habitat (imagine 245 soccer fields). That's a lot of new space to go fishing.
Lynn Camp Prong is now home to the greatest brook trout population in the Great Smoky National Park.
Angler's benefit from the work of the Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture when brook trout habitat is restored to its natural state.
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, Appalachian Partnership Coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, who also coordinates brook trout projects. "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."
This culvert in Long Mountain Brook, Coos County, NH reduced flow and degraded the quality of habitat downstream of the culvert. It also impeded upstream access to quality brook trout habitat.
River habitat and fish passage is greatly improved for the eastern brook trout after replacing the Long Mountain Brook, Coos County, NH (part of the Nash Stream watershed). Read more on the Nash Stream Restoration Effort in the 2014 list of Ten Waters to Watch.
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.
Our restoration success stories have created $232 million in economic benefits and other impressive milestones as illustrated in the colorful infographic.
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