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McIntosh Creek Habitat Improvement Project (2008)

Wild brook trout enhancement work in Allegany State Park

Moving rocks into placeMcIntosh Creek is a picturesque headwater stream located in Allegany State Park. The stream harbors a population of wild brook trout throughout its two mile length. This population is limited mainly by low summer stream flows and sparse adult trout habitat. Large woody debris (fallen trees), a vital component of healthy trout habitat, is rare in most Allegany State Park streams and particularly so in McIntosh Creek. In an attempt to increase the wild brook trout population and to increase the proportion of the population that is of quality size (8-10 inches), DEC Bureau of Fisheries along with a number of partners, designed and completed a project to accomplish this goal. The objective of the project was to increase the amount of quality pool habitat for wild brook trout, thereby increasing the adult trout population in the stream.

Moving logs into placeIn July and August 2008, DEC staff along with volunteers from the Red House Brook and Western New York Chapters of Trout Unlimited and staff of Allegany State Park, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and SUNY Fredonia created trout holding pools at 16 sites along the stream. These were fairly simple structures (utilizing trees and rocks from on site) and the work was done completely by hand and light, portable machinery. The structures were put in on only 11 work days, far faster than planned. This was completely due to the tremendous turnout of volunteers from the Trout Unlimited chapters and others. In addition to the work days from staff of state and federal agencies, there were at least 80 man-days of volunteer effort involved in building the structures. We now await high spring flows to dig the new pools below the structures. We will likely need to do some minor additional work on the structures next spring.

Prior to building the pool structures, we sampled the trout population and existing habitat at all 16 "improvement" sites and at six "control" sites along McIntosh Creek. At the control sites, we did not do any habitat improvement. Those six sites, along with a dozen "control" sites located on Beehunter Creek (a similar stream located nearby), will allow us to separate changes in habitat and trout populations that were due to our habitat improvement, from changes that occur naturally from events like droughts and floods. Fish population estimates from the June 2008 sampling showed that the entire adult wild brook trout population in McIntosh Creek was limited to only about 180 individuals. We will evaluate how this project changes stream habitat and the wild brook trout population from 2009-2012. During the evaluation period the stream will be closed to fishing.

Complete habitat structureThis project was funded by a $6,300 grant from the Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture and was used for purchase of tools and materials. Matching funding was provided by labor, in the form of planning and project construction, from the project partners. Many thanks to everyone involved in this project!