As 2013 drew to a close, TU made four small but strategic investments in projects that permanently protect habitat for Eastern brook trout. Four TU Coldwater Land Conservancy Fund grants were given to three land trusts to protect 1,180 acres from future development. Two of the grants facilitated donations of conservation easements. The other two helped offset the costs of acquiring property, which our grantees intend to turn over to public agencies to steward in 2014.
One of the projects, a conservation easement acquired by the Virginia Outdoors Foundation on property owned by the Warren County, Virginia Chapter of the Izaak Walton League, recently made the local news. TU’s grant paid for the property appraisal and legal fees associated with the transaction. Thanks to stiff restrictions on disturbance to water resources and streamside land, the conservation easement now permanently protects Gooney Run, a pristine brook trout-occupied stream flowing through the League’s property. Gooney Run originates in Shenandoah National Park and falls within the Shenandoah River watershed, the subject of a TU Home Rivers Initiative. (For the uninitiated, nothing paints a finer picture of brook trout angling on and adjacent to Shenandoah National Park than this recent video by TwoFisted Heart Productions, which I’ve been plugging every chance I get.)
This and the three other projects—another in Virginia and one each in Pennsylvania and North Carolina—illustrate the value of TU partnering with land trusts to protect the place we fish. Stay tuned for more strategic Coldwater Land Conservancy Fund investments in 2014, and feel free to contact staffers Kevin Anderson (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Damon Hearne (email@example.com) for more information about the program.