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February 27, 2024

24 Pennsylvania Trout Streams That Deserve a Conservation Status Update

Anglers are campaigning to update the designations of some Pennsylvania waterways to reflect the exceptional status of their wild trout populations and water quality

Four times each year, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission proposes streams to be added to the Class A Wild Trout and Wild Trout lists. Right now, there are 24 Wild Trout Streams that represent the best of our best waters. Among those eligible for protection during this comment period include Still Creek in Schuylkill County, Clear Run in Adams County, and tributaries to Nesquehoning Creek in Carbon County. These outstanding waters positively affect surrounding communities through increased economic activity and improve the natural, scenic, and aesthetic values of the state.

Pennsylvania sportsmen and sportswomen have a chance to influence this process and seal the deal for our best trout streams—here’s why you should take action today.

The Economic Power of Trout Waters

With 86,000 miles of streams and about 4,000 inland lakes, Pennsylvania is home to some of the best publicly accessible fishing that the East Coast has to offer, including phenomenal trout and bass fishing. With opportunities like these, it’s no wonder that 1.2 million Pennsylvanians fished their local waterways in 2020, helping contribute to the state’s $58-billion outdoor recreation economy.

Since 2010, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission has worked with sportsmen and local universities to distinguish our best waters through the Unassessed Waters Program. Based on the UWP’s evaluation, stream sections that meet a set of criteria are eligible for certain protections. For example, streams that have abundant populations of wild rainbow, brown, and brook trout can be eligible for Wild Trout Stream or Class A Stream designations. Protecting these streams ensures that the outdoor recreation industry continues to thrive and that future generations can enjoy the same (or better) fishing opportunities.

Tackle shops and fishing guides are among the businesses that make up an important part of the robust outdoor recreation industry in Pennsylvania. And giving special consideration to the best wild trout streams supports these small businesses. “When I worked in the local fly shop, the Class A list provided a great reference to point people in the right direction to find trout water,” says Matthew Marran, a flyfishing guide and former fly shop worker in the Delaware River Basin. “As a guide, I depend on Class A waters to put clients on wild trout with consistency and confidence. And I’m seeing more and more people ask when booking to fish exclusively for wild trout.”

Why Does a Designation Matter?

In these cases, what’s in a name really matters: Wild Trout and Class A streams qualify for additional protections from Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection, including the limitation of activities around these streams that would degrade water quality. The Wild Trout Stream title designates a water as a Coldwater Fishery and protects surrounding wetlands from development. Similarly, streams that qualify for the Class A designation get additional recognition as high-quality waters, which restricts in-stream discharges and guards against habitat degradation.

These designations from the PFBC are critical to helping the state manage and protect fish populations, especially as demands on Pennsylvania’s 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.

Fortunately, sportsmen and sportswomen understand the importance of this process. A TRCP survey found that 92 percent of Pennsylvania sportsmen and women support designating streams when they meet the right criteria.

What You Can Do to Help

Pennsylvania’s hunters and anglers have an important opportunity to conserve more critical streams. If we don’t speak up, these exceptional waterways could easily be degraded and eventually lost to pollution.

Take action now and tell the PA Fish and Boat Commission that you value these protections for clean water and fish habitat.

This blog was originally posted in November 2019 and has been updated for each quarterly public comment period. The current comment period ends on March 24, 2024.

Top photo by Nicholas A. Tonelli; other photos by Derek Eberly.

6 Responses to “24 Pennsylvania Trout Streams That Deserve a Conservation Status Update”

  1. I cannot speak for PFBC, but my assumption would be that the actual cost of implementing these classification changes would be virtually nil other than the normal day to day data base updates, etc. within the concerned state agencies, in this case, PF&BC, PA-DEP and maybe a couple others. This is much more a simple act of designation than anything requiring significant regulatory action. It is also a very good thing, IMO…

  2. michael Gondell

    I completely support the work done by the TRCP to upgrade trout streams in PA to protect them. I also support
    the work of TRCP and other conservation organizations like Trout Unlimited etc. The current Trump administration
    must stop the dismantling of effective government organizations that also further these goal and this administration must be opposed.

  3. Alan L Higley

    be careful of this upgrade, because it will now and in the future restrict recreational activities along these waterways. as long as they are doing so well as is a better argument would be to to continue current designation.

  4. Any time we can do something to protect our best trout stream we should do it. It’s always a lot cheaper to protect a high quality trout steam than to try to restore a degraded stream. Dollar for dollar its the best bang for the buck. If the Pa Fish and Boat Commission is recommending an upgrade to a stream, all the water quality, habitat evaluation and fish population studies (the work) has been documented on the stream. The idea of redesignation is to protect them from degradation, not restrict recreational use. As you indicate, out of all the streams is PA there is a very small percentage of streams that meet the criteria of supporting natural reproduction and being designated a wild trout or class A wild trout steam. They all deserve the added protection from degradation redesignation provides.

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February 26, 2024

Sporting Groups Support Final Southeast Oregon Resource Management Plan

The BLM’s final plan secures safeguards for over 400,000 acres of backcountry

Today, the Bureau of Land Management officially announced the release of the Record of Decision for the Southeast Oregon Resource Management Plan Amendment, marking a pivotal moment for conservation in Oregon. This final plan, set to guide land management across more than 4.6 million acres of an iconic Oregon landscape, strikes a thoughtful balance between habitat conservation, outdoor recreation, grazing, and development. 

This significant milestone represents the culmination of over 20 years of dedicated planning and collaborative stakeholder engagement. The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership joins hunters and anglers in celebrating the 420,000 acres within the plan’s jurisdiction that will now be managed to maintain their wild, backcountry character.

“Today’s announcement is a testament to the power of collaborative and persistent stakeholder engagement with a shared commitment to conserving our state’s wild and diverse landscapes,” said Tristan Henry, Oregon field representative for Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “We are particularly proud of our role in shaping a management strategy that recognizes the importance of these lands for wildlife habitat and outdoor recreation, including hunting and fishing.”

The finalized plan reflects the recommendations of the Southeast Oregon Resource Advisory Council, a diverse group of stakeholders—including hunters, anglers, and ranchers—who have provided invaluable insights throughout the planning process.

“To help guide the development of this plan, a broad-based BLM resource advisory council, made up of 15 appointed individuals, rolled up their sleeves to create a well-rounded alternative within the Southeast Oregon RMP amendment,” said Michael O’Casey, deputy director of forest policy and northwest programs for the TRCP and a current Southeast Oregon RAC member. “We are thrilled to see the BLM utilize many of the recommendations provided by the RAC to conserve special places from development, while providing for public access, habitat restoration, and ranching to continue.”

The ROD emphasizes the significance of the Owyhee and Malheur River regions as vital habitats for wildlife and as premier destinations for outdoor enthusiasts. By prioritizing conservation and balanced land use, the BLM’s plan ensures that these areas will continue to support Oregon’s rich traditions of fish-and-wildlife-based economy, which is integral to the state’s $2.5 billion outdoor recreation industry.

The conservation community and outdoor recreation advocates have long championed a balanced approach to land management that safeguards wildlife habitat while allowing for sustainable use. The TRCP, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, Oregon Hunters Association, Trout Unlimited, and members of the Owyhee Sportsmen’s Coalition have been instrumental in advocating for these principles throughout the planning process.

“We applaud the BLM’s foresight in preserving the vitality of the Owyhee and Malheur regions. This plan is a testament to the power of collaboration and dedication of organizations and individuals who stand for balanced land use,” affirmed Chris Hagar, northwest coordinator for Backcountry Hunters & Anglers. “It’s a significant step forward in ensuring our public lands continue to flourish for future generations of Oregonians and wildlife alike.”

The TRCP and the Owyhee Sportsmen look forward to continued collaboration with the BLM, state officials, and all stakeholders to implement this plan and further the legacy of conservation, restoration, and stewardship for future generations.

Photo Credit: Brian Grossenbacher

February 23, 2024

What is the Environmental Quality Incentives Program?

The Environmental Quality Incentives Program is a crucial Farm Bill program focused on helping farmers, ranchers and forest landowners integrate conservation into their working lands.  But what exactly is EQIP and how does it benefit hunters and anglers? 

In this short video, we demystify a crucial Farm Bill conservation program, the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), and shed light on its benefits to hunters and anglers.

EQIP is a voluntary conservation program that allows farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners to enhance water quality, strengthen wildlife habitat, and reduce soil erosion and sedimentation.  

The benefits of EQIP for fish, wildlife and agriculture are significant.

The Farm Bill is the largest piece of conservation legislation that will come before the 118th Congress.  You can help ensure that habitat and wildlife remain central to sensible farm policy in the United States here

Learn more about Farm Bill Conservation Programs here

February 16, 2024

TRCP’s Ian Nakayama Elected to National Fish Habitat Partnership Board

Nakayama will serve a 3-year term representing marine recreational anglers on a diverse board of stakeholders focused on conserving fish habitat across all 50 states.

(Washington, DC) – The National Fish Habitat Partnership held their inaugural Board meeting of 2024 on February 6, with the primary focus being to appoint new members to the Board, filling seats that had expired or were vacant. Ian Nakayama of Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership (TRCP) was elected to a three-year term on Board, representing marine recreational anglers. Also newly elected were John O’Keefe of Yamaha Motor Corporation, representing corporate industry; Peter Micciche, mayor, Kenai Peninsula Borough, Alaska, representing local government involved in fish habitat restoration; and Chris Horton of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, also representing marine recreational anglers.  

Nakayama has served as the government relations manager at TRCP since June of 2021 and has focused on advancing the Forage Fish Conservation Act, increasing adoption of natural infrastructure, increasing funding for Everglades restoration, and increasing funding for the National Wildlife Refuge System. A native Virginian, Nakayama graduated from the University of Virginia in 2019 and worked in legislative offices from 2019 until 2021.  

“In the face of declining fish populations and fish species diversity, protecting and restoring fish habitat is more important now than ever,” said Ian Nakayama, government relations manager at the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “I’m honored to join the Board and I look forward to contributing to the advancement of these crucial fish habitat conservation projects.” 

“The National Fish Habitat Partnership appreciates the continued strong and enduring interest from the conservation community to want to serve on the Board,” said Robert Boyles, Chair of the National Fish Habitat Board. “We had a very strong group of candidates vying for membership on the Board, which I think will strengthen the Board with diverse expertise for the future. I would like to thank all the departing Board members for their contributions to the National Fish Habitat Partnership and for being an integral part of the team.” 

Since its inception in 2006, the National Fish Habitat Partnership has been a driving force behind the successful implementation of 1,300 projects aimed at safeguarding, restoring, and enhancing fish habitat across all 50 states.  This collaborative effort is committed to the conservation of fish habitat on a national scale, effectively leveraging federal, state, tribal, and private funding resources.  By strategically focusing on priority conservation projects through 20 regionally based Fish Habitat Partnerships, the NFHP has been able to achieve remarkable results in bolstering fish populations.  The recognition of the NFHP by Congress in 2020 through its inclusion in the America’s Conservation Enhancement (ACE) Act serves as a testament to the organization’s invaluable contributions.  

To find out more about the NFHP and its endeavors, please visit fishhabitat.org.   

TRCP works to maintain and strengthen the future of hunting and fishing by uniting and amplifying our partners’ voices in conserving and restoring wildlife populations and their habitat as challenges continue to evolve.  

February 15, 2024

Louisiana Issues Regulations to Protect Nearshore Habitat from Menhaden Industry

In the most significant Gulf menhaden conservation outcome to date, the state’s Wildlife and Fisheries Commission approves half-mile coastwide buffer prohibiting pogy boats from netting, increases fish spill penalties

(BATON ROUGE, La.)— Louisiana’s coastline, gamefish, and recreational angling opportunities will now receive greater protections from the industrial menhaden fishery, after the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission approved a revised Notice of Intent (NOI) at a Special Commission Meeting today in Baton Rouge.

The NOI expands the current ¼-mile no-fishing buffer zone, which prevents industrial menhaden harvest near the coast, to ½-mile coastwide, with a broader 1-mile buffer added off Holly Beach. It also establishes more stringent penalties and reporting requirements for future fish spills.

The commission initially decided to take action last October, suggesting a 1-mile buffer after 18 separate fish spills, accounting for over 2.5 million wasted menhaden and at least several hundred dead, breeding-sized redfish, occurred in 2023 alone. Most notably, three spills in early September fouled popular beaches and exacerbated user conflicts with recreational anglers and boaters, and again raised public concerns over the damage being caused to shallow waters by the menhaden industry.  The industry firmly opposed the initial NOI.

Following a public comment period and a public hearing at the Feb. 1 meeting, the commission voted to again ask representatives from the menhaden industry and recreational fishing advocacy and conservation organizations to reach a compromise. The compromise modified the NOI to ½ mile, while retaining new penalties and reporting requirements for future net spills from the original NOI. The commission also voted to allow the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to implement the new regulations immediately, ahead of the menhaden season’s start on April 15.

“We were asked by the Commission and Governor Landry to get in a room with the industry and work on a compromise, so that’s what we did. As with any compromise, there is some give and take,” said Coastal Conservation Association Louisiana Chairman Charlie Caplinger.  “That said, these new regulations on the industry are a very positive step forward for Louisiana’s coastal zone that will provide much-needed protections for our fragile shorelines and the fish and wildlife that live there. CCA and our coalition partners would like to thank Governor Landry, the Commission, and the new leaders at Wildlife and Fisheries for helping to facilitate this agreement.”

Gulf menhaden, also known as pogies, are a critical food source for iconic Louisiana sportfish like redfish and speckled trout. Approximately 1 billion pounds of pogies are harvested by the industrial Gulf of Mexico menhaden fishery each year, mainly from Louisiana waters. To date, pogy boats have been allowed to fish closer than 500 yards from Louisiana’s shorelines, where the boats often make contact with the water bottom while stirring up sediment with their massive purse seine nets, affecting feeding and spawning for a host of sportfish, birds, and dolphins.

A coalition of recreational fishing, wildlife and habitat conservation, and boating organizations has been working for five years to expand public awareness about the impacts of the Gulf’s industrial menhaden fishery and advocate for some basic conservation measures, such as the ones included in the NOI.

“Conserving and protecting Louisiana’s vast but diminishing coastal fisheries and critical barrier islands, beaches and marshes has been the goal of our coalition for the last five years,” said Chris Macaluso, director of the Center for Marine Fisheries for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “We have consistently worked with the Wildlife and Fisheries Commission, Department of Wildlife and Fisheries staff, concerned anglers, charter captains, conservationists, lawmakers at every level, and the menhaden industry to enact meaningful regulations that can help accomplish that goal while recognizing the importance of commercial fisheries to Louisiana’s economy and culture. The Commission deserves a lot of credit for recognizing the validity of our coalition’s concerns and taking a big step forward in protecting Louisiana’s coast.”

In 2021, Representative Joe Orgeron (R-54) first introduced a bill in the Louisiana Legislature which proposed a nearly identical buffer to this NOI (HB 535). Due to industry opposition, the bill ultimately did not pass, but it did jumpstart a dialogue between the public, legislators, and other decision-makers about the impacts of intensive purse seine netting activity along Louisiana’s fragile coastline, and the impacts of bycatch on economically important species for other user groups, particularly redfish and speckled trout.

“For over three years, efforts have been made with little progress to get some common-sense regulations and policies put into place for the Gulf of Mexico reduction menhaden industry,” said Representative Joe Orgeron (R-54). “It now appears that these actions by the commission going forward will provide both increased scientific gathering on Louisiana’s largest fishery segment, as well as a better balance between the involved stakeholders for the upcoming 2024 season.”

“We commend the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission for this important step forward to increase the menhaden harvest buffer zone, as well as address the conservation and user conflict benefits that will come with it,” said Richard Fischer, CEO for the Louisiana Charter Boat Association, the nonprofit trade association that represents the best interests of Louisiana charter captains. “We also thank Governor Jeff Landry for exhibiting strong leadership by overseeing the brokering of this agreement, as well as Representative Joe Orgeron for being such a strong and vocal buffer zone champion in the Louisiana Legislature.”

The NOI will now go through a 30-day oversight period, where the joint Legislative Oversight Committees may choose to review it and make alternative recommendations. If they take no action, the NOI will be formalized as a final rule ahead of the 2024 menhaden fishing season.

Gulf Menhaden Coalition members include the Coastal Conservation Association (CCA), CCA Louisiana, CCA Mississippi, CCA Alabama, CCA Texas, CCA Florida, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, Louisiana Charterboat Association, American Sportfishing Association, National Marine Manufacturers Association, Bonefish and Tarpon Trust, International Gamefish Association, Angler Action Foundation, Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, Audubon Delta, Guy Harvey Foundation, Marine Retailers Association of the Americas, Mississippi Wildlife Federation, and Wildlife Mississippi. 

Learn more here about the recreational fishing community’s push for better management of forage fish in the Gulf of Mexico, Atlantic Ocean, and Chesapeake Bay.

HOW YOU CAN HELP

CHEERS TO CONSERVATION

Theodore Roosevelt’s experiences hunting and fishing certainly fueled his passion for conservation, but it seems that a passion for coffee may have powered his mornings. In fact, Roosevelt’s son once said that his father’s coffee cup was “more in the nature of a bathtub.” TRCP has partnered with Afuera Coffee Co. to bring together his two loves: a strong morning brew and a dedication to conservation. With your purchase, you’ll not only enjoy waking up to the rich aroma of this bolder roast—you’ll be supporting the important work of preserving hunting and fishing opportunities for all.

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