Think of a classic Appalachian brook trout stream and the picture in your mind will be of a meandering mountain freestone creek, plunging from pool to pool, trout dimpling the surface as they opportunistically gobble any bug that happens past.
There are creeks like this among the uppermost tributaries of Virginia’s James River, but there are also streams where the habitat has been severely degraded, for example by bank erosion and channel widening (below), to the point where the water won’t sustain fragile brookies.
Trout Unlimited staff and volunteers are working to turn things around, and a recently announced grant is another big step in the right direction.
Earlier this week the Virginia Environmental Endowment announced that TU will be awarded a $25,600 grant for its Upper James Home Rivers Initiative Project.
TU’s Seth Coffman said the grant will be used to leverage additional funding to eventually hire a coordinator for the Upper James initiative.
The staffer will help coordinate restoration work, and also work with landowners -- both private and public -- to navigate various cost-share programs available to pay for the restoration efforts.
Specific waters that will benefit from the work include the upper Jackson River, the upper stretches of the Bullpasture River, and Back Creek, a Jackson tributary. Those three streams all feature significant stretches of popular, publicly accessible fishing water.
In all, the Virginia Environmental Endowment awarded $300,000 to 15 organizations this year, a year that saw the group receive a record number of applications. When matching funds are considered, VEE grants have resulted in the investment of more than $75 million in environmental improvements since 1977.