That’s a Wrap – Lake Superior Basin Brook Trout Status and Distribution Field Work Completed
BY ANNA VARIAN, ASHLAND FWCO
The end of August marked the end of three summers of hard work, bushwhacking into streams of the Lake Superior basin in Minnesota, Michigan, and Wisconsin that haven’t been sampled for fish in the last ten years, if ever. The work was funded in part by a Bring Back the Natives grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and is being used to describe the status and distribution of brook trout in Lake Superior Basin streams.
This project is modeled on efforts of the Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture (EBTJV), a 17-State partnership formed to assess the status of brook trout in the eastern United States. The EBTJV determined brook trout status across 70 percent of the brook trout’s historic U.S. range. The Midwest portion of the brook trout range remains unclassified. We’ve been working with the EBTJV coordinators to complete a comprehensive brook trout status and distribution map covering the entire historic range of brook trout in the country.
Over 100 sites were sampled across the three states in 2013, bringing the total number to nearly 600 sites! All of this work has been combined with data from universities, state and federal agencies to produce a map of brook trout status across the Lake Superior Basin. Using GIS spatial analysis tools we will determine which landscape variables affect brook trout status, and use this information to model status in areas with little to no data. When complete we will provide information on status and threats to brook trout to researchers, managers, and conservation organizations to help prioritize and pinpoint areas for brook trout restoration, protection, and reintroduction.
Project progress has been reported to partner agencies, natural resource organizations and the general public at several venues this year. These include the Western Upper Peninsula fishery agency coordination meeting, the Wisconsin chapter American Fisheries Society annual meeting, the Great Lakes Fishery Commission lake committee meeting, and the Oak Brook (Illinois) chapter of Trout Unlimited meeting.