Eastern Brook Trout Venture
Gene Macri is heavily involved in saving and restoring Brook Trout populations. He is
working with a number of groups. Below is an article about some of his work from the Public Opinion
Newspaper of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. However, after much analysis his opinion on whether the venture can
be successful is that it may be impossible. Click here for his analysis: Brook Trout Venture
Destined to Fail
The Chambersburg Public Opinion Pennsylvania 8/01/06
An aquatic venture: Groups unite to study, protect brook
FRANKLIN COUNTY -- The brook trout is having one tough time in
Pennsylvania where the native is recognized as the state fish.
Just 1 percent of Pennsylvania's 1,313 smaller watersheds support
natural populations of the speckled, red-bellied fish, according to the Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture.
Populations of brook trout have been eliminated or greatly reduced throughout Franklin
"That's what most kids caught as their first fish 25 years ago,"
said Eugene Macri, a biologist from Waynesboro.
Macri and other biologists view the brook trout as the proverbial
canary in the coal mine. Their demise is a sign that the environment is deteriorating.
A myriad of government and non-profit groups in 17 states are
looking at "brookies" -- what threatens them, what can be done and their future. The groups are collaborating in
the Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture. The venture counts among its members the Pennsylvania Boat and Fish
Commission and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The Venture's goals include promoting aquatic habitat loss as a
national problem. Two of the most serious threats to brook trout habitats are climate change and acid rain,
according to a December report by the Venture.
"There's no silver bullet to address all the issues," said Dan
Tredinnick, spokesman for the Fish Commission. "It's not going to have solutions. It is trying to show how larger
environmental issues have an impact across the region."
Brook trout have declined across their entire eastern range from
Maine to Georgia, according to the Venture's report. Global warming further endangers trout in the southern
Mike Heck, president of the Falling Spring Chapter of Trout
Unlimited, expects local
groups will get involved with improving habitat for brook trout.
His organization has polished up a gem among cold water streams,
Falling Spring in Guilford Township.
"As the program becomes bigger some people will bring it up," Heck
said. "Once we're done with Falling Spring, it's basically maintenance. Why not break out and try to do something
else? There are many streams out there that can be as good as the Falling Spring. It's a young program."
(Gene Macri searchs the brook trout stream for food photo by Marekell Deloatch)
Falling Spring has a rich habitat for
One of the reasons is the high mineral content of the limestone
stream, according to Macri.
He recently sampled the mineral content of Carbaugh Run, a free
stone creek that flows through Caledonia State Park. It measured just one-tenth of Falling Spring's
Carbaugh Run cannot protect trout from a sudden surge of acid
"When it rains here the stream has no buffering capacity," Macri
said. "The pH could go from 7 (neutral) to 5 (acidic), just like that. It's just like a brick going through the
Macri's non-profit organization, The Last River and Game
has joined the Maryland Brook Trout Alliance which is determining the
strengths and weaknesses in the state's trout streams, several of which originate in
"These streams were really productive 25 years ago," Macri said. "They have
Brook trout prefer water that is neutral-to-base and water temperatures
below 68 degrees, he said. They can withstand warmer water and acidic
Isolated pockets of reproducing brook trout survive in local streams,
according to Macri. Their growth is limited by stream conditions. A six-inch brook trout
swimming in a degraded stream may be five years old while a 14-inch trout in a favorable
habitat may be just two years old.
"There are oodles of book trout streams that are of excellent value," Heck
said. "I fished (in July) one half as wide as my Tacoma and caught 25 to 30, up to six inches
long, in a 100-yard stretch. It was not stocked at all. The water was 56
If a stream can support a trout population, the Fish Commission should not
stock it, he said.
"It's their responsibility to change regulations or stop stocking or repair
it if can be fixed," Heck said.
The Fish Commission has designated several streams for wild brook trout
enhancement, Tredinnick said. Usually the commission sets aside a small section of a stream
for restricted harvest, but special regulations set aside an entire watershed for catch and
release of brook trout, year-round on any tackle. The nearest is Shaffer Run and its
tributaries in Tuscarora State Forest, Perry County.
The Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture is modeled after the North American
Waterfowl Management Plan, which has forged partnerships to protect and restore wetlands for
breeding waterfowl since the 1980s.
The scope of the Venture is huge.
It's initial report about the reduction of trout populations is based on a
model that projects where trout would have been before the European settlement of the New
"Nobody has delusions of going back to that," Tredinnick said. "It could be
said brook trout are doing better in 2006 than in 1956."
"You have to prioritize what you can do," Macri said. "With limited funding
you're not going to be able to repair or restore all the streams."