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Public Perspectives on Trout Stream Management in New York State

Fall 2017 Public Meeting Series Summary

View or print full report (PDF, 1.4 MB)

Purpose:
The purpose this meeting series on trout stream management was to understand the range of outcomes desired by trout stream anglers and the relative importance of those outcomes in contributing to a satisfactory angling experience. The acquisition of this information was undertaken as the first step in developing a new statewide trout stream management plan.

Methods:

Trout meeting map
Figure 1 Geographic distribution of trout stream management
meetings, Autumn 2017

Based on the unique advantages of face-to-face conversation in exploring ideas and confirming that the ideas expressed were clearly understood, a statewide series of 16 public meetings were held in the autumn of 2017 (Figure 1). The importance of achieving the maximum level of clarity in communication was considered to outweigh the costs and limitations associated with this labor-intensive approach.

The format of the meetings consisted of a 30-minute Powerpoint presentation to convey background information how NYSDEC currently manages trout streams. This was followed by 90 minutes dedicated to questions and discussion intended to facilitate quality dialog between participants and DEC fisheries staff. During the discussion period an active listening approach was used to fully understand participants angling preferences and to clarify or convert issues of concern or suggestions for management into desired outcomes. Focusing on endpoints allows DEC to take stock of desired outcomes on a more global basis, affording us the ability to recognize recurring themes that need to be addressed. After the final meeting, frequently expressed desired outcomes were categorized and their relative prevalence was analyzed to provide a picture of the most important needs identified by anglers who participated in the meetings.

Results:
Based on sign-in sheets, 318 people (excluding DEC staff) participated in the meetings with attendance ranging from 7 to 42. Thirty-three percent of participants reported no organizational affiliation, 36% reported Trout Unlimited membership and 12% percent reported membership in other organizations focused on outdoor recreation and conservation.

The set of desired outcomes expressed was quite diverse but, based on prevalence, it was possible to identify a "top five" list of take home messages from the public comment. Those messages were that anglers value:
• high quality stream habitat as a means to better fishing and as a desired outcome in its own right
• the opportunity to catch wild trout and to a lesser extent stocked trout that have been in the stream longer than freshly stocked trout
• extended availability of trout stocked in streams
• a diversity of distinct stream fishing experiences (stocked trout, wild trout, easy vs. challenging, etc.) and the information necessary to find them
• management success to be based on more than just catch of trout per hour

An extensive description of these and the other frequently expressed desired outcomes is included in a more comprehensive report.

Next Step:

As the next step in rethinking trout stream management in New York State, DEC will use the top five desired outcomes identified during these meetings to begin crafting a plan that incorporates the expectations and desires of the trout stream angling public.