Salter brook trout are a unique species that once was the focus of some of our nation’s earliest trout fishing aficionados.
But development pressures and habitat fragmentation caused by dams and culverts pose a risk to salter brook trout across the northeast.
In the fall of 2015, survey crews failed to find a single brook trout in the Santuit River on Cape Cod, suggesting that another population of salter brook trout has been lost.
If the tide is to be turned we must approach salter conservation with a sense of urgency.
In 2015 TU completed an assessment of 457 coastal and anadromous brook trout streams from Maine to Long Island, New York.
The effort, in partnership with state fishery agencies, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the Sea Run Brook Trout Coalition, helped determine that the status of coastal brook trout, and the presence of anadromous behavior, is highly variable and uncertain across the 457 streams assessed.
The most coastal brook trout streams were identified in Maine (317 streams) and the fewest were in Rhode Island (seven streams). Brook trout are thought to be extirpated from 57 coastal streams. Their current status in 201 other streams is unknown. The occurrence of sea-run brook trout within these coastal streams is even more uncertain. Within existing coastal populations, the occurrence of anadromy is mostly unknown.
With more work needed to determine the status and distribution of salter brook trout. TU was awarded a new grant by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, a portion of which is funding a program in Maine where TU volunteers are helping to survey coastal streams where brook status is currently unknown.
The grant will also help us to zero in on salter conservation priority areas where multiple small stream systems have the best probability of supporting salter brook trout and associated native aquatic biodiversity. This information will provide the foundation for a long-term salter brook trout conservation strategy.
The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation grant will also help us to continue to work with partners in Massachusetts on ongoing monitoring and assessment efforts there – especially in monitoring existing and newly re-introduced populations in the Cape Cod area. In addition to the survey and scientific assessment work described above, we will continue our fundraising efforts for ongoing restoration projects.
The continuing Red Brook restoration effort, for example, will provide expanded spawning and rearing grounds for salter brook trout, blueback herring, and alewife, as well as adult habitat for American eel. The overall habitat plans involve transformation of former cranberry production bogs back to natural springs and channels that can serve as prime headwater habitats.
Over the next two years, we will also work with Acadia National Park to complete two culvert replacement projects that reconnect 6.5 miles of coldwater habitat in Maine’s Bass Harbor Marsh, a large salt marsh complex on Mount Desert Island in eastern Maine fed by five coldwater tributaries. By reconnecting these streams, we have the potential to establish a salter brook trout stronghold.
Staff contact: Jeff Reardon, firstname.lastname@example.org