Heritage Brook Trout
The Problem. Brook Trout populations are declining both in New York State and throughout the Brook Trout's historic range in the Eastern States and Canada. Heritage populations are declining even more rapidly. This is due to a variety of factors, including: degradation of water supplies (acid rain, subdivisions, logging, roads, etc.), introduction of non-native trout species (Brown and Rainbow Trout), spread of diseases (some by hatchery Brown Trout) and higher water temperatures (logging and global warming). Ponds and tributary headwaters of Catskill streams still contain genetically important strains of the Brook Trout that were here when fly fishing began in the Catskills. In some cases, stocked trout were never introduced to their watersheds, in others, the stocking occurred so long ago that the introduced DNA has now been swamped by the Heritage Brook Trout's DNA, which is more finely attuned to the environment. Both the NYS DEC and WTF are concerned that increasing development pressures combined with global warming could place even greater stress on these important Heritage Brook Trout strains. In addition, by preserving the environment of these headwater tributaries, we are insuring the quality of the water so important for the sport fisheries, recreational boating, and drinking water supplies downstream. Therefor, WTF is beginning a program to address this issue.
Our Program. The broad outlines of our program are to work within the Upper Delaware Watershed in the Catskill Mountains of New York to preserve, protect and restore native Brook Trout fisheries, and work cooperatively with all the stakeholders present in this watershed to create and implement Heritage Brook Trout restoration projects. We recently had an outing to Trout Pond, a Heritage Brook Trout pond lying within State lands in the Russell Brook (a tributary to the Beaverkill) watershed. We believe that this would be an excellent watershed in which to promote a restoration project. Trout Brook contains a fishery with Brookies up to 20" in size, some of the largest natives in the State. However, the size of the population appears small for the size of the pond, and we believe that research needs to be conducted on this. Other stakeholders we will be contacting and hope to work with on such a project include Theodore Gordon Flyfishers, Trout Unlimited, the NYS DEC, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
The EBTJV. The Federation of Fly Fishers and the Wild Trout Flyrodders are both members of the Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture (EBTJV). Glenn Erikson, Conservation Director of FFF and President of WTF is a member of the EBTJV Steering Committee. The EBTJV is an eastern states partnership that is part of the National Fish Habitat Partnership, and consists of resource managers, scientists and professionals representing 32 different state, federal, non-governmental and other entities.