The Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture (EBTJV) is the nation's first pilot project under the National Fish Habitat Initiative, which directs locally-driven efforts that build private and public partnerships to improve fish habitat. The long-term goals of the EBTJV are to develop a comprehensive restoration and education strategy to improve aquatic habitat, to raise education awareness, and to raise federal, state and local funds for brook trout conservation.
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 EBTJV to halt the decline of brook trout and restore fishable populations. The group spearheaded a range-wide assessment of brook trout populations and threats to brook trout and brook trout habitat in the Eastern United States (report forthcoming). Seventeen states are currently drafting strategies to prioritize policy changes and on-the-ground actions to improve water quality and restore brook trout habitat and populations in their individual state using locally-driven, incentive-based, and non-regulatory programs.
The EBTJV recently completed an assessment on the distribution, status and threats to brook trout in the Eastern United States. The results are as follows:
- Intact stream populations of brook trout (where wild brook trout occupy 90-100% of their historical habitat) exist in only 5% of subwatersheds
- Wild stream populations of brook trout have vanished or are greatly reduced in nearly half of subwatersheds.
- The vast majority of historically occupied large rivers no longer support self-reproducing populations of brook trout.
- Brook trout survive almost exclusively as fragmented populations relegated to the extreme headwaters of streams.
- Poor land management associated with agriculture ranks as the most widely distributed impact to brook trout across the eastern range.
- Non-native fish rank as the largest biological threat to brook trout.
- Intact subwatersheds of wild brook trout in lakes and ponds are almost exclusively located in Maine, but self-reproducing populations remain in some lakes and ponds in New York, New Hampshire and Vermont.
- More data collection is needed to determine the status of brook trout in various parts of the eastern range, particularly in Maine, New Hampshire, New York, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania.
Who is the EBTJV? The Joint Venture is comprised of:
Fish and wildlife agencies from 17 states.
Federal support from U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish&Wildlife Service, National Park Service and Office of Surface Mining.
Conservation organizations including Association of Fish&Wildlife Agencies, Trout Unlimited, Izaak Walton League of America, Trust for Public Land and The Nature Conservancy.
Academic institutions including Conservation Management Institute at Virginia Tech and James Madison University.