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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 Wild Trout and Class A lists. Right now, there are 59 Wild Trout streams that represent the best of our best waters. Those eligible for protection during this comment period include streams that are well-known to local anglers, such as Baptism Creek in Chester County and numerous trout-filled tributaries of Johnson Creek and the Lackawaxen River in Pike and Wayne counties.
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.
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.”
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.
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 September 18, 2023. Photos by Derek Eberly.
Join Ashly Steinke as he takes you on a turkey hunt and shares the inspiring story of his family’s journey raising sustainable grass-fed beef while harnessing the power of Farm Bill conservation programs. Witness firsthand how they have successfully restored grasslands, wetlands, and forests while building a profitable ag business.
In the video, Ashly shares how Farm Bill programs have enabled his family to improve habitat and boost wildlife populations on their farm and how the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), and the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) has helped them to make a positive impact.
Thanks to Farm Bill support and a commitment to conservation, the Steinke family’s Wisconsin farm has undergone a remarkable transformation. Join them in spreading the word about the remarkable impact these programs can have and discover how you can get involved too.
120,800 acres of big game winter range will be managed for the benefit of Idaho’s hunters and anglers
Idaho sportsmen and sportswomen today celebrated the Bureau of Land Management’s official move to conserve 120,800 acres of valuable big game habitat in the Bennett Hills north of Mountain Home.
The Idaho BLM state director has signed the Record of Decision for the Four Rivers Resource Management Plan, a document that will guide the agency’s management actions for more than 783,000 acres of public lands in central and western Idaho for the next two decades. Within the plan, BLM officials took action to conserve game migrations, winter ranges, and public access by creating the 120,800-acre Bennett Hills Backcountry Conservation Area.
When successfully implemented by the BLM, the Bennett Hills BCA will be managed to:
The new plan culminates roughly a decade of planning efforts by the BLM, state wildlife biologists, and the hunting community. Thirty-nine outdoor-related businesses and eight hunting and fishing organizations supported conservation measures in the Four Rivers RMP.
“The Bennett Hills are a bird hunting destination and an essential winter area for the famed King Hill mule deer hunt. It is worthy of protections that help wildlife and sportsmen,” said Brian Brooks, executive director of the Idaho Wildlife Federation.
The BLM Four Rivers Field Office includes Idaho Department of Fish and Game Hunting Units 39, 43, 44, and 45 in the central and western portions of the state. These popular public lands help fuel Idaho’s multi-billion-dollar outdoor recreation economy, provide important wildlife habitat, and support various traditional uses of the land.
“The Bennett Hills form key winter range for several of southern Idaho’s mule deer herds and provide local habitat for sage grouse and other upland birds,” said Ford Van Fossan, director of brand at First Lite. “As a member of Idaho’s hunting industry, First Lite is excited by efforts to conserve and enhance this critical part of the state’s natural heritage.”
“This area is prioritized by IDFG for the conservation of migratory habitats for six distinct mule deer, elk, and pronghorn herds,” said Rob Thornberry, Idaho field representative for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “From limited-entry big game hunting in Units 44 and 45 to the over-the-counter opportunities in Units 39 and 43, you aren’t going to find a better place to hunt mule deer than on public lands managed by the Four Rivers BLM field office.”
In addition to the conservation of the Bennett Hills, the new resource management plan will continue wildlife-friendly management in the Boise Foothills and the conservation of habitat for both long-billed curlew south of Emmett and Columbian sharp-tailed grouse near New Meadows.
“Sportsmen and sportswomen thank the BLM for these management prescriptions that will help conserve a vast suite of wildlife species, including huntable species such as mule deer, elk, chukar, and sharp-tailed grouse,” continued Thornberry.
Learn more about TRCP’s commitment to public access here.
We encourage the BLM to conserve big game habitats & hunting and fishing areas
Today the Bureau of Land Management released a draft plan that—when completed—will guide land management decisions for 3.6 million acres of public lands overseen by its Rock Springs Field Office in southwest Wyoming. This area includes habitats that support the Red Desert-to-Hoback mule deer migration corridor, the longest of its kind in North America.
“The diverse landscapes of the Rock Springs Field Office contain critical winter range for migratory big game, core sage grouse habitat, and world-class hunting and fishing areas such as the Greater Little Mountain Area,” said Josh Metten, Wyoming field manager for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “Wyomingites love this wild and working landscape and want to ensure that these public lands are managed so future generations may also experience their richness.”
The TRCP and partners have been involved in the Rock Springs Resource Management Plan revision efforts since scoping began in 2010. The draft RMP is an important step forward in a lengthy public process that determines how habitat, recreation, development, and other uses will be balanced in the future. This release kicks off a 90-day comment period where the public will have an opportunity to provide input on the preferred alternative and other management options developed by the Rock Springs Field Office.
“Thousands of sportspeople recreate, hunt, fish, and work on the lands that will be managed by the Rock Springs RMP, all of whom have a vested interest in the outcome of this revision,” added Metten. “TRCP is committed to working with our membership, partners, state and local governments, and other key stakeholders to facilitate a successful outcome for the Rock Springs RMP that will benefit sportspeople.”
Learn more about TRCP’s commitment to public access here.
In the last two years, policymakers have committed to significant investments in conservation, infrastructure, and reversing climate change. Hunters and anglers continue to be vocal about the opportunity to create conservation jobs, restore habitat, and boost fish and wildlife populations. Support solutions now.Learn More