Surveying for Undocumented Wild Brook Trout Populations (2011)
Surveys focused on Lake Erie/Niagara River and Allegheny River watersheds
Fisheries technician with large wild
From June to November 2011, two seasonal Fisheries Technicians completed the second year of surveys on small streams across DEC Region 9, most that have never before been assessed. The primary focus for this work (a part of the Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture) is to locate undocumented wild brook trout populations or other wild trout species. This is a federal grant project (Federal Aid to Sportfish Restoration) currently funded through 2012. Work in 2010 focused on the upper Genesee River watershed, while 2011 work occurred in the Lake Erie/Niagara River watershed, with work also occurring in the Allegheny River watershed. Once wild trout populations have been identified, the process to upgrade their water classifications, affording them additional legal protection, can begin. Additionally, streams will be prioritized for future habitat restoration and perhaps brook trout reintroduction efforts.
2011 Survey Summary
Large wild brook trout from
Cattaraugus Creek watershed.
During 2011, the crew assessed 548 streams. Of this total, 79 were found to be dry. In the 469 streams electrofished, they found wild brook trout populations in 46 of the streams, wild brown trout in 78 streams and wild rainbow trout in 21 streams. Wild brook trout in these streams face threats to their existence such as competition with brown and rainbow trout, elevated water temperatures, and poor land use practices. On the positive side, several surprisingly large specimens of both wild brook and brown trout have been found in these mostly very small streams.
Large wild brook trout from
Buffalo Creek watershed.
After two full field seasons, the entire upper Genesee River watershed (286 surveys) and most of the Lake Erie/Niagara River watershed (419 surveys) in Region 9, have been completed. A portion of the Allegheny River watershed (222 surveys) has also been completed. A total of 934 streams have been assessed since 2010, of which 803 (86%) have never been surveyed before. Wild brook trout were found in 90 streams, wild brown trout in 120 streams and wild rainbow trout in 21 streams. Of the 195 streams sampled that contained wild trout, 175 (90%) need to have their water classifications upgraded in order to offer the streams maximum protections from disturbance. Man made barriers (mainly road culverts) potentially impassible to trout and other fish were identified on 158 streams in the surveys.
This project is currently planned to continue through 2012. However, with a large number of streams to still be evaluated in the Allegheny River watershed, it will likely take an extra season (2013) to finish this project.