New Data Shows Brook Trout Imperiled Throughout Entire Eastern Range

From Trout Unlimited Contact: Todd Richards, 508-792-7270 Warren Winders, 781-878-1074 Kathleen Campbell, 571-274-0597 New Data Shows Brook Trout Imperiled Throughout Entire Eastern Range Massachusetts Brook Trout Populations Threatened by Dams and Roads ARLINGTON, VA – Brook trout survive in less than half of their original range in Massachusetts. These results reflect the condition of brook trout across their entire Eastern range, according to an assessment released today by Trout Unlimited and a coalition of state and federal agencies. “Brook trout are the canary in the coal mine when it comes to water quality,” said Gary Berti, Trout Unlimited’s Eastern Brook Trout Campaign Coordinator. “The presence of brook trout in a watershed indicates that water quality is excellent. Declining brook trout populations can provide an early warning that the health of an entire stream, lake or river is at risk.” The report, “Eastern Brook Trout: Status and Threats,” is the first comprehensive assessment of the status of brook trout in the Eastern United States. These beautiful fish historically thrived in rivers and streams stretching from Maine to Georgia, but land use pressures have relegated the remaining isolated populations to the headwaters of high elevation streams. The few remaining patches of relatively strong brook trout habitat in the state are located in the Berkshire and Taconic mountains and within portions of the Hoosic, Deerfield and Westfield watersheds and several tributaries to the Connecticut River. Brook trout have been eliminated from 7% of their historical habitat in Massachusetts, and they are greatly reduced in another 28% of habitat that formerly supported brook trout. Population status is unknown across an additional 42% of the historical range. “While these results are sobering, we are already pursuing many opportunities for conservation of remaining high-quality habitat as well as restoration of impaired streams,” said Todd Richards, Aquatic Biologist, Massachusetts Division of Fish and Wildlife. “Our collective challenge is to protect the best remaining habitat and restore the rest.” “Brookies are quick to respond to habitat improvements,” explained Warren Winders, the brook trout coordinator for Trout Unlimited’s Massachusetts Council. “We have already seen the results of our work with state and federal partners on Quashnet River and Red Brook. By scaling up these programs throughout the state and region, we will see wild brook trout returning to our streams. And that’s great news for all of us who love to fish locally with our families and friends.” This assessment represents the first stage of the Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture’s collaborative efforts to restore brook trout habitat. The Joint Venture was initiated in 2002 as a pilot program of the National Fish Habitat Initiative. Participants include fish and wildlife agencies from 17 states, federal partners, conservation organizations and academic institutions. The results of this assessment will be used to develop state-by-state strategies for brook trout conservation and recovery. The full report, as well as state-specific data and maps, are available at www.brookie.org. -30- Trout Unlimited is the nation’s oldest and largest coldwater fisheries conservation organization. Today, TU boasts over 160,000 members nationwide