Rappahannock Friends and Lovers of Our Watershed

Restoring Native Brook Trout Cold Water Streams in Rappahannock County: A Green Infrastructure Project


December 23, 2009 from Nat Gillespie, Trout Unlimited

Thanks to Beverly for getting the ball rolling and for her excellent GIS skills that proved useful during our meeting.

  • This proposed Green Infrastructure project has the following objectives:
  • Engage private landowners to protect and restore riparian vegetation along streams and tributaries in the Hughes, Hazel, Thornton and Rush River watersheds.
  • Use the Farm Bill, US Fish & Wildlife and other cost-share programs to exclude livestock from these streams and tributaries and develop alternative water supplies and solutions that work for private landowners. Protect and improve water quality on these private lands.
  • Protect and restore cold, clean water and associated brook trout habitat.
  • Return brook trout populations to private lands in order to strengthen existing native brook trout populations located largely within Shenandoah National Park boundaries.
  • Expand existing brook trout populations down onto private, valley bottom land so that these populations are better able to survive future drought and flood events that are expected to increase in frequency and intensity as the climate changes.

The goals of this pilot partnership can be further defined at our next meeting, but generally they are:

  • Improve water quality through livestock management, riparian plant restoration, wetland restoration and (where appropriate) stream bank and/or stream channel restoration to remove all four rivers from any 303 d impairment for fecal coliform, sediment, and/or nutrients in 5 years.
  • Restore native brook trout to private lands on these four rivers by extending their populations down from the Shenandoah National Park boundary at total of 4 miles total.
  • Engage at least 5 landowners in the first 2 years in incentive-based programs or volunteer activities to protect and improve water quality and stream condition on private lands, and at least 15 landowners over a 5 year period.
  • Demonstrate water temperature decreases on private lands over these time periods.

Strategies to target private landowners for such stream protection and restoration work will involve the following information:

  • Previous discussions with local Soil & Water Conservation staff in Farm Bill programs.
  • Previous discussions with Piedmont Environmental Council of Virginia staff about conservation easements and Farm Bill programs.
  • Conservation easements existing on the particular property.
  • Local knowledge about landowner interests in brook trout or other recreational wildlife that benefits from riparian habitat.
  • Local knowledge and future discussions with landowners about obstacles to stream protection and riparian restoration.

Funding sources and other related resources will be discussed at the next meeting but should include:

  • Various Farm Bill programs.
  • Various US Fish & Wildlife Service Programs.
  • PECVA incentive program for fencing and riparian restoration.
  • Chesapeake Bay Trust funding for stream restoration.
  • National Fish & Wildlife Foundation funding for a variety of activities.
  • Trout Unlimited Embrace-A-Stream funding for riparian restoration, instream restoration and culvert replacement.
  • Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture funding for riparian restoration, instream restoration and culvert replacement.
  • Possible private stream/wetland mitigation bank development through an environmental engineering firm.
  • Volunteer involvement with propagating and/or planting native plants along streams and floodplains.
  • Volunteer maintenance of native plants that have been planted and invasive species management.
  • Volunteer monitoring of water temperature, water quality, plant survival and growth, and biological data.
  • Other funding and related resources.

We will have the opportunity to discuss all this and any ideas or suggestions you have at the next meeting. 

Happy Holidays,
Nat Gillespie

Nathaniel Gillespie
Fisheries Scientist & Director of Eastern Lands Protection Project Trout Unlimited 1300 N. 17th Street, Suite 500 Arlington, VA 22209
(703) 284-9431 Telephone
(703) 284-9400 Fax

-----Original Message-----
From: Beverly Hunter [mailto:bev_hunter@earthlink.net]
Sent: Thursday, December 17, 2009 6:21 PM
To: Nat Gillespie; bvalenti@vt.edu; Hal Hunter; jeb_wofford@nps.gov; pedoscher@comcast.net; Dloock@Pecva.Org; Deirdre Clark; Timothy Bondelid; Jones Marshall; Marshall Jones; Cliff Miller; cliffm3@gmail.com; Wichelns Greg - Culpeper VA; John W. McCarthy; Pam Owen
Subject: Green Infrastructure project in Rappahannock County: Native Trout Restoration

Dear all,
This is just a quick summary to folks who have some interest in the matter of Green Infrastructure projects in the RRRRegion and Rappahannock County, and in restoration of habitat for native brook trout within subwatersheds that have been defined as potentially viable native trout habitat. THis is based in part on a meeting today at the Link with Trout Unlimited, Shenandoah Natl Park, and RappFLOW.

The next steps will include the following:

  • organize a working session sometime in January 2010 among key stakeholders, to define goals, strategies, resources, tools, etc.
  • identify riparian landowners in the three TU restoration subwatersheds (Hughes, Hazel, and Upper Thornton), including their status in terms of easements and BMP's and stream buffer vegetation

We have created a GIS database that includes thus far the following layers for the areas of study:

[see attached map]

  • Trout Unlimited defined watersheds for trout protection and restoration
  • VA DEQ "cold water reaches" -- streams defined as cold water streams
  • streams
  • parcels
  • aerial photos
  • VOF easements
  • VA BMPs and CREP
  • roads and driveways
  • SNP

Nathaniel Gillespie Trout Unlimited will provide a draft writeup of possible goals, timeframe, baseline and progress measures.

Happy Holidays!
Bev Hunter for RappFLOW