Explore the waterways that qualify for High Quality and Exceptional Value status but have been backlogged at the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection
If you’ve been following the TRCP for a while, you’ve likely seen us call for Pennsylvania anglers to take action in support of upgrading conservation safeguards that the PA Fish and Boat Commission can provide to our best trout streams. In this process, the commission opens a public comment period every three months and anglers are outspoken in their support of bestowing Wild Trout and Class A Wild Trout stream status where waterways are eligible.
Similarly, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection develops water quality standards designed to safeguard PA streams, rivers, and lakes and give the highest possible protections to our best waters. The agency designates qualified waters as High Quality or Exceptional Value to protect and maintain clean water where it already exists.
Unfortunately, a lengthy list of PA’s top wild trout streams qualify for the highest conservation safeguards at the DEP, but the agency has failed to implement these protections. And our trout streams have waited long enough.
Explore the map to see which streams in the Delaware River watershed are currently backlogged and pending designation by the DEP.
How Did So Many Streams Get Backlogged for Designation?
Waterways can be recommended for upgraded status by the DEP, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, or the public. After streams are proposed for additional designation, an arduous assessment by the DEP then follows. In fact, the evaluation of High Quality and Exceptional Value streams often represents years, if not decades, of work and detailed water surveys.
Even after this thorough process, though, some streams have not yet been designated. (See streams marked “Qualifies for Conservation” on the map.)
Many waters being considered right now are already recognized as wild trout waters and several are recognized as Class A wild trout waters by PFBC. (See streams marked “Recommended for Conservation” on the map.)
This means that not only do these waters sustain naturally reproducing populations of trout, but several of them are among the best in the state. These waters deserve top conservation safeguards, according to one state agency, but they await assessment and designation by the other. This has resulted in a lengthy backlog and delay in commonsense protections.
Why Is It Important to Clear the Backlog of Stream Designations?
Clearing the backlog is particularly important to our state’s $58 billion outdoor recreation economy right now. These additional protections are critical to helping the state manage and protect fish populations, especially as demands on water resources continue to increase. When you consider that roughly 40 percent of streams across the state are NOT suitable for fishing, swimming, and/or drinking water, according to the DEP, it makes sense to safeguard the exceptional waterways that already meet top standards and support outdoor recreation that drives our economy.
TRCP polling shows that 92 percent of sportsmen and sportswomen in Pennsylvania support maintaining and strengthening clean water standards in the state, which is home to some of the best publicly accessible fishing that the East Coast has to offer. Plus, providing additional conservation safeguards to the best wild trout streams supports small businesses like tackle shops and fishing guide services that make up an important part of the robust outdoor recreation industry in Pennsylvania.
Photo by Will Parson/Chesapeake Bay Program.