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Conserving Eastern Brook Trout: An Historic Event
10 Region, June 2, 2004
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Eastern brook trout were once so common in the Eastern U.S. that fish surveys noted their absence, rather than their presence. Their numbers began to decline in the early 1900s, as logging, overfishing, habitat degradation, and construction of impoundments contributed to drastically reduced populations. The introduction of non-native rainbow and brown trout increased competition, driving brookies from larger bodies of water to the headwaters of small Appalachian mountain streams.

Increased efforts to restore this species reached an historic milestone on June 2, 2004, when, for the first time, cold-water fisheries biologists and policy makers from 17 states, 4 federal agencies, and 10 NGOs met to join forces to save the brookie. In partnership with the International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (IAFWA), the Service kicked off the Eastern Brook Trout Initiative with a keynote address by Fred Harris, Chief of Fisheries for the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission and President of the American Fisheries Society. Hannibal Bolton, Chief of Fish & Wildlife Management and Habitat Restoration for the Service, described the ?Joint Venture? concept and the relationship of this initiative to the National Fish Habitat Initiative. It was readily apparent that meeting attendees had overwhelming interest in and support of a brook trout initiative.

Based on the ?Joint Venture? model, the Eastern Brook Trout Initiative is a key outcome of the Fisheries Strategic Vision and the draft Fisheries Strategic Plan. The Initiative will rely upon a collaborative approach to focus efforts and leverage resources to improve the status of this species on state, federal, tribal, and private lands from Maine to Georgia.

The meeting was an enormous success! There were many positive outcomes; among the most notable were: ? establishment of a steering committee and work groups to assist in developing a Joint Venture for brook trout, ? commitment to conduct an assessment of the status and distribution of brook trout in the Eastern U.S., coordinated by the USGS-NBII Program and funded by Trout Unlimited, and, ? formation of a work group to draft a ?Collaborative Conservation Strategy for Eastern Brook Trout? by mid-2005.

In the end, the conservation of brook trout and its habitat will reap many benefits, allowing the Fisheries Program to fulfill its charge to ensure ?Healthy Fish and Wildlife, Healthy Habitats, Healthy People, and a Healthy Economy.? Cool, clear water will tumble through mountain streams and brook trout will once again claim their rightful place in the rushing waters of the Appalachians.

No contact information available. Please contact Larry Dean, 612-713-5313, larry_dean@fws.gov


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