Chesapeake Bay Headwaters


The Chesapeake Bay—the largest estuary in the United States—is fed by an intricate network of rivers and streams, thousands of miles of which support native and wild trout populations. From small mountain freestone streams to valley bottom spring creeks, some of the best trout fishing on the East Coast may be found within its watershed.

It’s no secret that trout fare better when their waters are spared the impacts of development and poor land management. Many streams in the Chesapeake Bay watershed have lost their once-abundant trout populations due to these threats.  Many more are at risk of further loss and degradation. 

By protecting the best remaining trout habitat and working to enhance and restore habitat adjacent to protected strongholds, TU’s goal is to maintain the watershed’s coldwater fisheries while bolstering the health of waterways that feed the Chesapeake Bay. This requires that TU establish creative partnerships and work hand-in-hand with private landowners, many of whom share TU’s enthusiasm for conservation but lack the resources to act on it.


To protect the highest quality tributaries to the Chesapeake Bay, TU uses its Coldwater Land Conservancy Fund  (CLCF) to help land trusts and agencies acquire lands and conservation easements from willing landowners, securing prime trout habitat—and places to fish—for generations to come. TU is also restoring trout habitat in strategic locations and empowering its vast Bay-based membership (16,000 +) to conserve the watershed’s trout populations, with a particular emphasis on native brook trout.




TU has used its CLCF to put 2,300 acres and eight miles of trout streams under permanent protection in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.  CLCF grants to the region’s top land conservation organizations leveraged nearly $4 million in state funding and private donations. Blue ribbon trout streams such as Virginia’s Jackson River and Maryland’s Savage River were among the CLCF’s first beneficiaries. 

Stream restoration projects are underway on these and nearby lands, as well as in other locations in Virginia’s Piedmont, south-central Pennsylvania , and Maryland. A dozen TU chapters have helped with this work to date, serving as both on-the-ground stewards and as advocates at the local, state and federal levels.



Staff Contact 

Kevin Anderson, (703) 284-9420,

Climate Change
Invasive Species
Oil + Gas Drilling
Roads + Development
Chesapeake Bay Headwaters
Shenandoah River
Potomac River

Brook Trout

Brook Trout

Author of this Page 

Kevin Anderson

Risks to Fishing 

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