Brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) are the only trout native to much of the eastern United States. Arguably the most beautiful freshwater fish, brook trout survive in only the coldest and cleanest water. Brook trout serve as indicators of the health of the watersheds they inhabit. Strong wild brook trout populations demonstrate that stream or river ecosystem is healthy and that water quality is excellent. A decline in brook trout populations can serve as an early warning that the health of an entire aquatic system is at risk.
In 2005, in recognition of the need to address regional and range-wide threats to brook trout, a group of public and private entities formed the Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture to halt the decline of brook trout and restore fishable populations. Read the Status and Threats Report (PDF, 12MB) that documents the current brook trout populations across 17 eastern states.
Trout Unlimited’s Conservation Success Index (CSI) combines brook trout population data generated from the Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture, and many other types of landscape information that evaluates the habitat integrity and future security of that land. The CSI scores the subwatersheds, or lands typically containing 25 to 75 miles of streams, where brook trout historically survived.
The CSI provides a host of maps that illustrate the status of brook trout and their habitat across the Eastern brook trout range – from Maine to Georgia to Ohio. An interactive mapping tool allows you to use Google Earth or Google Maps to fly around your state and examine specific subwatersheds in your region. Visit the CSI page.
TU staff, TU chapters and our partners are using the CSI to prioritize areas for brook trout protection, restoration, reintroduction and education across the East.