Plan follows up on six-year TU study and sets path for new wild fish management program for Catskill Region
4/1/2000 -- -- Contact: Jock Conyngham: TU BeaMoc Project Manager, 207.846.9189
Nat Gillespie: TU Catskills Coordinator, 607.498.5960
April 1, 2000. Roscoe, NY. Trout Unlimited President Charles F. Gauvin today praised the new initiative by Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner John Cahill to improve the legendary fishery of the Beaverkill River and Willowemoc Creek. "We applaud DEC for stepping forward to build on the work begun by Trout Unlimited," said Gauvin. "Our ongoing TU projects in the watershed will complement the Department's efforts to complete and implement a long-term Beaverkill watershed management plan."
The DEC plan calls for a broad five-year program of research and assessment to help counter recent and historic environmental problems in the Beaverkill and Willowemoc ("BeaMoc") watershed and to protect the system's remaining high quality habitat. The DEC program will lead to the development of a comprehensive watershed management plan aimed at expanding and protecting the BeaMoc wild trout fishery. The BeaMoc is part of the larger river system including the East Branch, West Branch, and mainstem of the Delaware, the latter of the two considered by many to be the finest wild rainbow fisheries on the East Coast.
Since 1994, Trout Unlimited has spent about $500,000 for research, assessment and restoration-work that has laid the base for the new DEC initiative. "It is extremely gratifying to see DEC take the ball and run with it," said Jock Conyngham, TU's Director of Watershed Assessment and Geomorphic Restoration, and director of TU's BeaMoc project. "This type of cooperative, science-based, watershed-scale approach represents the future of fisheries and river management. DEC's strength in assessing trout populations and angler use dovetails with TU's project focus on hydrology and geomorphology. We look forward to supporting and working with the Department on the new initiative."
Conyngham also urged that DEC take immediate management and restoration actions designed to protect the river while the new watershed management plan is being developed, and he noted that the agency is actively considering a range of such measures. "There are several actions that the state can and should take and that do not require anymore study, and it appears that DEC has a good start on that." As examples, Conyngham cited the need for DEC to continue acquiring key tracts in the watershed, to restore damaged tributaries, to remove berms that keep the river from its floodplain, and to develop emergency closures of the fishery when the river gets too warm and trout are stressed.
Nat Gillespie, TU's Catskills Coordinator, also urged DEC to look beyond the BeaMoc watershed. "The new initiative on the BeaMoc is welcome and long overdue," said Gillespie. "I hope it is just a start, however, to a new program to study, restore and protect all the great Catskill rivers. The Esopus, the Schoharie, the Neversink, the Delaware all could use a program like DEC has announced for the BeaMoc. We look forward to working with DEC to make this happen."