In the Chesapeake Bay, TU is using multiple tools to help land conservation partners permanently protect landscapes that support trout and restore lands and waters already under permanent protection. TU staff members are using the Conservation Success Index (CSI) to identify subwatersheds within the Eastern brook trout range that are both high priorities for this native trout as well as for land trusts with overlapping conservation interests. Staff members have helped partnering land trusts obtain funding for land protection projects through such CSI analyses, and partnered with several land trusts to implement restoration projects on protected lands.
The Coldwater Land Conservancy Fund provides grants to land trusts and government agencies seeking to acquire land and conservation easements on brook trout habitat. Meetings and workshops like the Chesapeake Bay Coldwater Summit are convened by TU to bring together conservation advocates from throughout the Bay watershed to discuss and learn about plans, policies, and projects related to trout habitat protection and restoration.
In Virginia, TU staff collaborated with the Piedmont Environmental Council and a conservation-minded landowner whose farm is protected under a permanent conservation easement to remove an old, unused dam on the Thornton River. TU staff obtained funding through the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation's Chesapeake Bay Small Watershed Grant Program to remove the 4-foot high dam, restoring connectivity for native brook trout and migratory fish from the Chesapeake Bay. With the dam gone these fish species can now travel into the headwaters of the Thornton River—located in the Shenandoah National Park—which includes three blue ribbon brook trout fisheries located several miles upstream. The project also physically rebuilt several pools and riffles and the floodplain to ensure that the river remains stable and provides excellent fish habitat.
In West Virginia's Eastern Panhandle, TU has forged a partnership with the Cacapon & Lost Rivers Land Trust to work with landowners interested in restoring native brook trout to tributaries of the Cacapon River. The partnership has yielded three riparian revegetation and livestock exclusion projects on four spring-fed creeks and interest from a number of other members of the community who have protected their farms and woodlands under conservation easements
In Maryland and West Virginia, TU is working with the Pinchot Institute for Conservation to implement The Bay Bank's brook trout habitat credit program, a voluntary habitat conservation market that targets philanthropic support for brook trout conservation. Landowners sell Bay Bank-verified brook trout credits to private and public donors in exchange for agreements to protect and maintain habitat in the future. Landowners can post brook trout credits for sale on The Bay Bank's website and find the technical assistance needed to assess habitat and design conservation projects.
In Pennsylvania, TU is collaborating with watershed associations, land trusts, state agencies, and local governments to cultivate landowner interest in conservation and fishing access easements. TU supplies landowners and conservation partners with the technical and financial assistance needed to complete land protection projects and secure coldwater fisheries for future generations. In watersheds being restored through the efforts of TU's Eastern Abandoned Mines Program and other acid mine drainage remediation programs, TU is proactively seeking to protect newly restored streams with conservation easements before land development rebounds and threatens treasured waterways.