By Rob Shane
On July 16, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) approved the upgraded designation of than 70 streams to “Wild Trout” and “Class A wild trout” status.
This successful rulemaking came in response to almost 200 public comments from TU members and supporters in favor of the proposed designation.
Many of the streams on this quarter’s list were in Monroe, Jefferson, Potter, Juniata, and Franklin Counties. Click here to see a map of all the newly protected stream sections.
These designations will go a long way in keeping our most pristine streams and intact wild trout populations secure into the future.
Recognizing the importance of wild trout in a watershed, PFBC biologists seek out these populations as a way to quickly identify high-quality waters.
These stream sections join Pennsylvania’s 16,000+ wild trout miles. On Class A waters, which have the most significant trout populations, riparian zone buffers are protected, and discharges from waste-water treatment plants and other sources are limited.
TU field crews, as part of the PFBC’s Unassessed Waters Initiative, played a large role in protecting these new stream sections.
Each summer, Trout Unlimited deploys staff strapped with electroshocking backpacks upon our waterways, hoping to find wild trout. Since 2011, we’ve found wild trout in roughly 40% of streams surveyed.
Of the newly protected streams, TU was responsible for surveying 10, including tributaries to famed Pocono Mountain streams McMichael and Paradise Creek. TU secured protections for wild trout in four more Monroe County streams and three streams in Wayne County.
Protection for nine Pocono Mountain streams comes as a welcomed addition for the Our Pocono Waters Campaign, which includes eight TU chapters and the Pennsylvania Council serving as member parties.
In addition to protecting our streams, the group delivered petitions to law-makers in the region with more than 3,300 signatures from sportsmen and women, conservation groups, businesses and the faith community emphasizing the need to keep Exceptional Value streams protected from short-sighted development.
Also, TU staff and members Erik Broesicke (Monocacy TU) and Don Miller (Brodhead TU) recently met with State Senator Lisa Boscola and State Representatives Rosemary Brown and Kyle Mullins to educate them about the importance of increased stream protections, not just in the Poconos, but across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Additionally, PFBC passed a measure to protect Section 03 of Spruce Creek in Huntingdon County with Catch & Release Artificial Lures Only regulations.
This section of Spruce Creek, measuring only 800 linear feet of public fishing access, was found to contain an astronomical number of wild brown trout, some of which surpassed the 20-inch mark. It joins section 05 downstream, known as the George Harvey Stretch, in receiving these special regulations.
Pennsylvania Trout Unlimited strongly supported this measure.
Len Lichvar and Dave Rothrock, co-chairs of PATU’s Trout Management Committee, were on hand to deliver testimony on the benefits of an Artificial Lure’s Only designation. PATU president, Greg Malaska, made the case in an article in the Centre Daily Times on the importance of C&R on our most valuable trout streams.
Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission upgrades streams on a quarterly basis, with the next meeting scheduled for October 21-22, 2019. Be on the lookout for the next opportunity to participate in the public comment period and help TU ensure protections for wild trout in a stream near you.
Rob Shane is the mid-Atlantic organizer for Trout Unlimited. His office is in East Stroudsburg, Pa..