|The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is home to approximately 86,000 miles of flowing waters, of which 3,175 streams totaling 21,654 miles have been surveyed by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC). Currently, 3,411 streams comprising 12,824 miles are designated by the PFBC as wild trout waters; however, many waters with the potential to hold wild trout populations have not been surveyed and subsequent knowledge of the fishery is lacking. As such, Division of Fisheries Management biologists have embarked on a concerted statewide effort to identify previously undocumented wild trout populations. Through the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Fisheries Management Division Area 8 biologists in cooperation with the Information Management Section of the PFBC developed a methodology to identify unassessed streams in Pennsylvania. This effort has concentrated on streams most likely to support wild trout populations that are facing the greatest development pressure.
The classification of a stream as a wild trout stream means that the trout found there have resulted from natural reproduction and that the habitat supports wild trout. Additionally, tributaries to wild trout streams are classified as wild trout streams for their function as habitat for segments of wild trout populations, including nurseries and refuges, and in sustaining water quality necessary for wild trout. Depending on the density of the wild trout population, streams designated as wild trout waters may also be afforded increased environmental protection from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Chapter 93 Water Quality Standards. Ultimately, the first step to protect, conserve and enhance our aquatic resources is to document the status of the fishery.
Using the previously mentioned GIS methodologies, a subset of unassessed streams were identified in the Sherman Creek and Yellow Breeches Creek basins in south central Pennsylvania. A total of 17 streams were surveyed during 2009, of which, wild trout were documented in eight streams (Table 1). Many of the wild trout streams documented during the 2009 surveys do not support dense populations of wild trout and, as such, are not capable of providing recreational fishing opportunities. However, they likely function as critical habitat for wild trout during certain life stages or seasonally.
Biologists throughout the state plan to continue to conduct stream surveys aimed at identifying previously undocumented wild trout waters to help protect, conserve and enhance the aquatic resources of the Commonwealth.
Table 1. Previously unassessed streams located in Cumberland and Perry counties surveyed by Fisheries Management Area 7 biologists during 2009.
|– Fisheries Management Area 7|
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