Community | Conservation | TROUT Magazine

What is a tree worth?

A little girl plants a tree along New York trout stream

By Tracy Brown

At Trout Unlimited, planting a tree is about so many things. 

Each spring and fall hundreds of TU volunteers plant trees along our favorite and most precious coldwater streams.  

It is about the trees. 

It is about the trout. 

And it is about engaging with the local community.  

This spring in New York alone over 200 TU volunteers participated in spring tree plantings. The action of planting along our favorite streams builds camaraderie among our chapter friends and provides a backdrop and a starting point for active improvement in our community. 

But what is a tree really worth to trout? 

Tree roots grab and hold the soil along the river banks and as they grow, helping to reduce erosion and improving water quality. 

A group of volunteers gather to plant trees along a river in New York.
Trout Unlimited volunteers in New York prepare for a busy day of planting trees along a trout stream.

Trees also provide a canopy that is used by variety of insects that fall into the river and become trout food. When anglers are on a stream fishing with flies that imitate terrestrial insects, they cast to shady spots under stream-side trees and bushes for that very reason. 

As for that shade, it is important for water temperatures. In our changing climate, air temperatures are increasing and that can increase water temperatures. Planting trees along our priority streams may help mitigate these impacts, keeping stream temperatures viable for trout and other aquatic organisms that require cold water. 

The trees that Trout Unlimited volunteers and staff members are planting in riparian corridors are making trout streams healthier and more resilient. And they are making trout fishing better. 

Let’s plant more trees.  

Tracy Brown is the Northeast Coldwater Habitat Program restoration manager for Connecticut and New York