Every year the CCF funds more than $1 million in biological and economic research and watershed-scale demonstration projects. Projects range from native fish genetics studies and instream flow analyses to multi-year efforts to address sweeping issues, such as the impacts of energy development on public lands to whirling disease research. The following are a few examples of the work underway with the support of CCF members.
Marcellus Shale Project (NY, PA, WV)
An unprecedented gas drilling rush is underway in the Marcellus shale, which underlies six Eastern states. TU is leading sportsmen and women to ensure that drilling is done responsibly, despite inconsistent environmental laws and underfunded regulatory agencies. Using volunteer-collected monitoring data and TU's Conservation Success Index (CSI), TU is working to protect exceptional fishing and hunting places, as well as working with a responsible gas drilling company to implement pilot projects using best management practices. This is a major, multi-year effort in which TU's expert staff, and deep connection to sportsmen and women on the ground, make us a widely-recognized and highly-respected leader.
Bristol Bay (AK)
Some call Bristol Bay the most important salmon ecosystem on earth. It is the most prolific sockeye salmon producing system in the world, and also has large runs of chinook and coho salmon, as well as rainbow trout, dolly varden, and Arctic grayling. TU is leading the fight to prevent the development of the proposed Pebble Mine, an enormous gold and copper mine that could decimate this irreplaceable ecosystem and the $445 million dollar fishing-based economy it supports. 2012 will be a critical year, as TU and its allies pursue protection of the area through a powerful but rarely-used provision of the Clean Water Act.
New England Culvert Project (VT, NH, MA)
By removing, replacing, or retrofitting currently impassable stream crossings, TU aims to reconnect Eastern brook trout habitat across New England. This year, we are in the midst of an effort that targets 12 key culvert restoration projects in four sub-watersheds of the Connecticut River. When completed, TU is undertaking this work in partnership with state fish and wildlife managers, volunteers, and with the support of the U.S. Forest Service, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Natural Resources Conservation Service.
Middle Clark Fork River Home Rivers Initiative (MT)
TU's large-scale restoration efforts on the Middle Clark Fork River are cleaning up abandoned mine damage and improving flows for native westslope cutthroat and bull trout. The work also connects relatively healthy upstream fish populations to populations in the lower reaches. Currently, we are screening an irrigation ditch on Sixmile Creek to eliminate westslope cutthroat mortality. We are also working on improving bull trout habitat in Oregon Gulch, revegetating St. Louis Creek, reconstructing 3,000 feet of stream channel damaged by past mining activity, and engaging volunteers in our revegetation, monitoring, and restoration work.
Conservation Success Index
The Conservation Success Index (CSI) supplies the roadmap TU needs to achieve its vision of conservation success. It compiles the existing scientific data to produce a picture of how a particular trout or salmon species is faring across its range-which populations are strong and which are struggling? What are the most serious threats, and which restoration projects are likely to yield the greatest benefits? How might emerging threats, such as climate change, proposed oil and gas drilling, or new non-native species invasions affect a particular site or species? Armed with this information, TU staff and volunteers can prioritize projects more effectively and measure success over time.
Trout in the Classroom
Trout in the Classroom (TIC) is an environmental educational program through which participating teachers and K-12 classrooms raise trout in a classroom tank throughout the school year and then release the fish into a stream in the spring. Caring for the trout emphasizes the importance of teamwork, as well as shared responsibility and careful monitoring of water quality. Currently, TU partners with state fish and wildlife agencies and operates more than 1,000 TIC programs nationwide, impacting tens of thousands of students annually. With the merger of the New York Headwaters Initiative into TU, the goal is to further expand this program across the country.