Southeast Conservation Project


Exploring southern Appalachian backcountry streams in search of native brookies transports an angler back in time. The gorgeous and increasingly rare places where native trout thrive are some of the Southeast’s most sacred treasures—and chasing brookies where they belong has become one of fly fishing’s most exciting endeavors. Native southern Appalachian brook trout are found in only a small fraction of their native range and in North Carolina, for example,only half of those fish are found on private lands. Over the years, brookies have suffered from poor land use practices, fragmented rivers and streams and other pressures—that brookies still exist in the Southern Appalachians is a minor miracle.



Trout Unlimited is using new science, mapping and genetics data to protect 10 places in the Southeast in most need of protection. These special places offer the best places for native trout—good, clean water that will prove all of the necessary ingredients for their survival. By helping to protect these places, all of which are located on private land, we can increase backcountry brookie fishing opportunities.



Since 2009, Trout Unlimited has worked to protect Southern Appalachian brook trout fishing opportunities in the region. Working with local land trusts, we’ve determined the places that need the most help. We’ve helped protect important streams like the North Mills River, Rocky Fork and the East Fork Headwaters of the French Broad. Working with sportsmen and women, we’ve shaped policy decisions to keep these places intact.


Staff Contact 

Damon Hearne, Southeast Land Protection Coordinator

Climate Change
Rocky Fork - TN North Mills River - NC East Fork Headwaters - NC Upper Chattahoochee - GA Catawba Headwaters - NC North Mills River
East Fork Headwaters of the French Broad River

Brook Trout

Brook Trout

Author of this Page 

Damon Hearne, Southeast Land Protection Coordinator  

Risks to Fishing 

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