According to an assessment completed in 2015 by the Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture (EBTJV), wild brook trout occupy 33,200 square kilometers of habitat in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. This includes the streams they share with brown and/or rainbow trout.
There are 13,500 square kilometers of allopatric or “wild brook trout only” streams, which are comprised of 990 separate patches, or groups of contiguous catchments. This is the baseline from which progress toward this outcome will be measured, which means 14,600 square kilometers of habitat occupied only by wild brook trout serves as our restoration goal. Our annual restoration target is 137 square kilometers of habitat.
Brook trout are an essential part of the headwater stream environment and a valuable recreational resource. Because the fish needs clean, cold water to survive, its presence is a sign of a healthy stream. The possibility of restoring brook trout to local streams has motivated private landowners to reduce pollution and conserve habitat on their properties.
To achieve this outcome, Chesapeake Bay Program partners have committed to:
- Identifying priority areas for brook trout conservation, with special consideration given to those streams that have not been impacted by climate change, acid mine drainage or unconventional oil and gas development, and to those areas where genetics may have created robust populations of brook trout capable of withstanding stress;
- Informing state and local decision-makers of the benefits restored brook trout habitat can provide and the location of priority areas for brook trout conservation;
- Refining decision support tools (e.g., the Fish Passage Prioritization tool or the Riparian Restoration for Climate Change Resilience tool) and applying them to the local conservation of brook trout habitat; and
- Expanding efforts to monitor brook trout populations and tracking the success of brook trout conservation projects in Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
Monitoring and assessing progress toward the outcome will occur through an annual cluster analysis of the number, size and genetic diversity contained within wild brook trout patches. A status report will be developed every five years to summarize gains or losses in occupied habitat and recommend actions to maintain progress.
As part of the Chesapeake Bay Program’s partnership-wide implementation of adaptive management, progress toward this outcome was reviewed and discussed by the Management Board in August of 2021. It will be reviewed and discussed by the Management Board again in August 2023.
Logic & Action Plan
Chesapeake Bay Program partners have committed to taking a series of specific actions that will support the management approaches listed above.
Completed actions from this outcome's Logic & Action Plan include:
- In 2017, the Brook Trout Action Team identified 10 “Priority Level 1” areas for brook trout conservation. There are two areas in each of the five watershed states that are home to native brook trout.
Participating partners include:
- Maryland Department of Natural Resources (State of Maryland)
- New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (State of New York)
- Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (Commonwealth of Pennsylvania)
- Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (Commonwealth of Virginia)
- West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (State of West Virginia)
- National Park Service
- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
- U.S. Geological Survey
- Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture
- Trout Unlimited