EBTJV Habitat News Brief

Graphic art orange and olive green brook trout over text Eastern Brook Trout Joinnt Venture a Fish Habitat Partnership

Coming soon - EBTJV mini grant

NEW - EBTJV is excited to offer a training and outreach mini-grant program focused on our conservation actions, anywhere across our 17 state eastern region. More program information will be available with the full RFP in September.

What are EBTJV's conservation actions? Look on page 7 of our EBT Roadmap to Conservation.

Looking for EBTJV's on-the-ground brook trout conservation project funding? Our FY24 project funding closed in January. Awards should be announced in spring-summer 2024. Our FY25 cycle will begin this fall.

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FY23 award spotlight: Quinapoxet Dam Removal, West Boylston, MA

This spring, EBTJV, with the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Fish Habitat Partnership, funded four habitat improvement projects for eastern brook trout. We announced the winners in our March e-newsletter. Our FY24 awards will be announced next year, and our FY25 RFP will open this fall. Here, we highlight one FY23 project.

The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority is partnering with the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) and the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game’s Division of Ecological Restoration (DER) to remove the Quinapoxet Dam in West Boylston, MA. Removal of the dam will provide upstream fish access to the Wachusett Reservoir where existing populations of Brook Trout and Landlocked Salmon are considered to be genetically isolated as the Dam restricts vital migratory patterns. The project will make 35 miles of river accessible to fish and will also restore 0.2 miles of upstream habitat and 1 acre of riparian habitat. An ADA compliant path and platform will also be built on the river bank and interpretive signage will be installed. Associated benefits include restoring river processes for sediment and organic matter transport, restoring bordering vegetated wetlands and riverine habitat, eliminating safety concerns and liability issues related to the deteriorating dam, and enhancing public access to a popular fishing and recreation area.

This project should be completed by the summer of 2025, with post-construction monitoring to continue for two years.

“MWRA is excited to take on this ecological restoration effort that will strengthen the resilience of coldwater fish populations inhabiting the Quinapoxet River Watershed and enhance public access to the River,” said Rebecca Weidman, Deputy Chief Operating Officer of MWRA.

The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority provides wholesale water and sewer services to 3.1 million people and more than 5,500 large industrial users in 61 metropolitan Boston communities.

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Biologist profile, Lee Simard (VDFW)

In March, the EBTJV Steering Committee elected Lee Simard its new Vice Chairman. 

Lee Simard is a Fisheries Biologist with the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department. Lee earned his B.S. in Environmental Sciences and MS in Natural Resources from the University of Vermont and began working for the VFWD in 2017. Lee’s work primarily focuses on inland waters in Vermont, especially wild trout management where he oversees projects in the northwest corner of Vermont but also coordinates statewide efforts. He is also involved in management of Lake Champlain fisheries including Lake Sturgeon and Landlocked Atlantic Salmon. Lee gets very excited being able to work with such a broad variety of species while managing fisheries for people in Vermont. Lee has been a member of the Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture since 2018 and is excited to step into the new role.

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Research corner

Three researchers in EBTJV's network recently published Is now the time? Review of genetic rescue as a conservation tool for brook trout, in the journal Ecology and Evolution.

Jacob Rash, one of the coauthors of the study, and EBTJV's Chairman, offered: “Although genetic rescue holds promise, there is much to consider when evaluating this conservation approach. This paper reviews the strengths and weaknesses of genetic rescue, while encouraging the tool’s robust development through collaboration among those that use it.”

See the paper (Open Access) in Ecology and Evolution

Also noteworthy is that the study's lead author, Shannon White, has been selected as a 2023 recipient of the American Fisheries Society Genetics Section Early Career Award. Shannon works for the USGS Eastern Ecological Research Center, where her work benefits species like Atlantic sturgeon and flathead catfish, in addition to brook trout.

Infographic above is taken from Figure 1 of the manuscript, an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons CC BY license, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Other publications

A new genomic resource to enable standardized surveys of SNPs across the native range of brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) (Mamoozadeh et al., 2023)

Genetic analysis reveals a complex mosaic of admixture in Brook Trout in a historically fragmented watershed (Lamy et al., 2023)

Sources of coaster brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) revealed by genomic analysis of brook trout populations along Minnesota's shoreline with Lake Superior (Mamoozadeh et al., 2023)

A waterscape framework for the spawning and incubation habitats of brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) (Curry and O'Sullivan, 2023)

Patterns, drivers, and a predictive model of dam removal cost in the United States (Duda et al. 2023). This manuscript documents the trends and patterns of dam removal cost as part of the Large Dam Removal research collection. It describes two databases that document dam removal cost -- one with 668 removed dams, their total cost, and the presence of 3 dam removal cost driver categories (deconstruction, mitigation, and restoration) and another that has detailed cost breakdowns for 15 dam removals. Regional trends are highlighted as well as a cost model that describes the main drivers of dam removal cost. Co-authors created an R Shiny app that allows users to explore dam removal costs based on dam height, stream characteristics (discharge and watershed area) and project complexity. 

Chesapeake Bay rising waters workshop proceedings: This STAC workshop examined current information on drivers and effects of rising water temperatures and sought answers to a critical question: what might the CBP partnership do now–within the scope of its current goals, policies and programs–to actively prevent, mitigate or adapt to some of the adverse consequences?

Chesapeake Bay targeting: A collection of maps and applications that can be used to evaluate watershed restoration and landscape conservation initiatives relative to multiple goals and outcomes of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement.

Research in the news

University of Wisconsin-Madison: Study maps uneasy future of Wisconsin trout populations

(Maitland et al. 2022; Link to journal)

Ok, not brook trout, but we think you'll be interested: Virginia Tech: in deforested areas, hellbender fathers are far more likely to eat their entire brood than in areas that still have lush foliage (Hopkins et al. 2023; link to journal)

In the news

Western Mass News (Massachusetts): State announces funding to fix broken or outdated culverts

Bangor Daily News (Maine): Maine will get $35M to replace culverts blocking fish passage

FHTA: Federal Highway Administration funds 160 fish culverts across country

Antioch Times (Wisconsin): Wisconsin Dept. of Natural Resources reminds us how Climate Change impacts Wisconsin

Post-Bulletin (Minnesota): DNR to stock Minnesota Driftless strain brook trout around state

WBOY.com: 'Trout Pond' is actually the only natural lake in West Virginia

Bay Journal: Shenandoah Mountains could get scenic designation

Seven Days (Vermont) Trees and Limbs in Rivers Help Fish Survive Floods

Vermont Biz (Vermont): Leave boulders and logs in rivers to increase flood resilience and help fish

Mountain Times (Vermont) In 2022, Vermont Fish & Wildlife spent $168,532 from the Habitat Stamp Fund toward removing dams to increase stream connectivity for brook trout, controlling the spread of invasive plants, and expanding the Otter Creek WMA in Wallingford.

Chesapeake Bay Program: West Virginia landowner collaborates with nonprofit to restore brook trout habitat

StateImpact PA: In Pa., climate change threatens the state tree, bird and fish. Work is under way to help the native species.

Portland Press Herald (Maine):Commentary: Conservation can help nature weather forces of change in Maine

Naturaland Trust (South Carolina): A new refuge for brook trout! Fantastic story out of South Carolina to remove remove a dam on Pig Pen Creek and begin the process to restore nearly 4 miles of native brook trout stream in Sumter National Forest.

Monongahela NF This piece (from 2021) highlights some great work in WV! More than 2,000 acres of wildlife habitat in the Monongahela National Forest is being restored thanks to a collaborative project between the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources and United States Forest Service. Learn more: (Video) https://bit.ly/3d3hAiu

Brook Trout Restoration in the Bald Mountains of Tennessee: In April, Jeff Wright, project manager for Trout Unlimited, held a project completion site tour at two aquatic organism passage projects near Del Rio, Tennessee. EBTJV helped fund these through FY22 NFHP/FWS funds. See Mark Taylor's writeup for TU here.

WNTI seeking new Program Coordinator

The Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) is seeking a skilled independent contractor to lead the Western Native Trout Initiative (WNTI) and serve as the Program Coordinator. The WNTI Coordinator serves as an expert advisor and senior leader as the convening partner in conservation of 21 focal species of western native trout and char in 12 western states. The Coordinator will maintain the success of WNTI as a top performing WAFWA Initiative and premier Fish Habitat Partnership nationally.

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Proposals must be emailed by September 5, 2023, to Therese Thompson, WNTI Coordinator at [email protected]. No late submissions will be accepted. Start date is negotiable with a target date of October 10, 2023. The successful candidate will work alongside the current WNTI Coordinator until the end of December 2023.

View the full RFP here

Funding announcements

We try to highlight funding programs include eastern brook trout as a priority species, and/or identify conservation actions such as improving road-stream crossings and green infrastructure for the benefit of aquatic resource and community resilience.

NOAA: Restoring Fish Passage through Barrier Removal Grants FY 2023 NOFO Open

NOAA :Restoring Tribal Priority Fish Passage through Barrier Removal Grants

FishAmerica Foundation: Funding available for grassroots fishery habitat projects

  • Due September 18, 2023
  • The FishAmerica Foundation is soliciting projects from grassroots, nonprofit organizations conducting projects designed to improve sport fish populations, aquatic habitat, or water quality.
  • Projects must be conducted in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, Florida, Indiana,Illinois,Missouri, Tennessee, New Hampshire, or Washington (state). Grants are limited to a maximum of $25,000 but smaller projects are encouraged to apply.

NRCS Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP): Open. a partner-driven approach to conservation that funds solutions to natural resource challenges on agricultural land.

Fish passage projects training portal

The following is a new dashboard of BIL projects for 5 federal agencies: https://fws.maps.arcgis.com/apps/dashboards/8f553b5e7b0e440a842c61de11d135bc

About the EBTJV

The Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture is a geographically focused, locally driven and scientifically based effort to protect, restore and enhance aquatic habitat throughout the brook trout's Eastern US native range.

Our vision is

Healthy coldwater systems with fishable brook trout populations throughout their historic eastern geographic range. Learn more

The Canaan Valley Institute supports the coordination and operations of EBTJV.

We are a member of the National Fish Habitat Partnership. Beyond the Pond is the 501c(3) sponsor for NFHAP and supports the donor platform for several Fish Habitat Partnerships including EBTJV.

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