Native Southern Appalachian Brook Trout. They may be small in size but are big on color, long on legacy and downright fun to catch. Living jewels in cold mountain streams, brookies, or ‘specs’ as they are called in the Georgia mountains, are a clear indication of how well our headwater streams are fairing. Georgia Trout Unlimited as well the U.S. Forest Service – Chattahoochee National Forest and Georgia DNR - Fisheries, have been partnering for years to protect, enhance and restore Georgia’s native coldwater game fish in a partnership named Back-the-Brookie.
Recently, Back-the-Brookie was named the recipient of the U.S. Forest Service’s Southern Regional Forester Award for Partners/Community Engagement. Awardees from 13 southern states and Puerto Rico were honored in 15 categories. “This alliance of passionate and dedicated people is making a real difference here in Georgia in the preservation of this important native species,” said Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests Supervisor Betty Mathews. “Anglers are some of our country’s greatest conservationists, and we are proud to be seeing that in action here.”
Trout Unlimited members, agency personnel and summer interns have applied science based decisions to enhance habitat in numerous Georgia mountain streams and restore brook trout to 5 streams in the Chattahoochee National Forest. Evaluation of the work continues to support future fisheries management decisions. “We want to apply our time and resources in the most impactful way possible” said Georgia Trout Unlimited Conservation Chairman Alex Watson. On receiving the award, Kevin McGrath, Georgia Trout Unlimited Back-the-Brookie Chairman, related that the group is most proud of the legacy we are handing to the next generation.
Individuals named in the award are: Kevin McGrath and Alex Watson from Georgia Trout Unlimited; Jeff Durniak, Anthony Rabern, Leon Brotherton and Lee Keefer from Georgia DNR – Fisheries; and Mike Joyce, Jim Wentworth, Jerry Wood and Mitzi Cole from U.S. Forest Service – Chattahoochee National Forest.