Rappahannock Friends and Lovers of Our Watershed

Rappahannock County: Native Trout Restoration

Update all 2011
Update April 10, 2010
Update March 23, 2010

Updated 16 February 2010

Dear all,

I am sending you this note because you have indicated some interest in the native brook trout restoration project that is being formulated in Rappahannock County in collaboration with Trout Unlimited and several other organizations. I hope these notes will spark your ideas, information, etc., which are encouraged at any time. The project will next be discussed this coming Thursday at the Rappahannock County Conservation Roundtable.

Please use www.rappflow.org web site for updates on this project.

Since late December when a small group of us articulated long term goals for this program, there have been several meetings and discussions concerning this initiative.

1) Many of you have seen the briefing book I put together from materials from the Trout Unlimited study of "Eastern Brook Trout: Status and Threats," as well as maps of the Hughes, Hazel, and Thornton River subwatersheds with VOF easements (updated now as of Dec. 2009), parcels along the rivers, landowner identification, roads, streams, cold water streams, SNP, aerial photos, etc. We will continue to update these briefing materials and keep them updated on the RappFLOW website.

2) At the January 21, 2010 RappFLOW meeting, these briefing materials were discussed. RappFLOW will work with Trout Unlimited to help increase water quality monitoring, including monitoring macroinvertebrates and water temperature monitoring. BJ Valentine, President of RappFLOW, discussed the HOBO data loggers (Water temperature monitoring units) to place along streams that have the potential for supporting Brook Trout, to help monitor the temperature and collect data that will be useful for Trout Unlimited. Virginia recommended that we begin developing a baseline of data with the Thornton and Hazel watersheds with temperature data loggers. Don Loock identified certain key landowners along the Hazel River whose land is in conservation easement and who might be good leaders for the project. There will be a pilot process for monitoring/ outreach in one or two watersheds, focusing on land owners along the streams in the watershed who may be interested in:

  • monitoring the stream on their property,
  • walking the stream with Nat Gillespie and other trout experts to
    identify improved management practices, etc. and
  • discussing the project with other landowners along the stream.

Several attendees indicated interest in supporting the project. These included Cliff Miller, Deidre Clark (RRRC), Marc Malik (RappFLOW BOD), Carolyn Thornton (RappFLOW BOD), Don Loock (PEC), Jenny Fitzhugh, Marshall Jones (CRC), Dennis Kelly, and Ed Dorsey.

3) Greg Wichelns, Manager of the Culpeper Soil & Water Conservation District, made a number of suggestions regarding this project. He suggested inviting John Odenkirk of VDGIF, a fisheries biologist who lives in Rappahannock County, to participate in this project. John McCarthy offered to provide contact info for Odenkirk.

4) At the February 16, 2010 Water Quality Advisory Committee meeting in Rappahannock County, I reviewed the plans thus far with John McCarthy, County Administrator, and Greg Wichelns, CSWCD. Greg reminded us that grant proposal opportunities will be in May, so it would be good to have the project plans, people, objectives, needs, resources, and cost-sharing arrangements in place by that time. Wichelns stated that one major obstacle to restoring trout habitat in these streams is the lack of pools and riffles, due to many causes but primarily the major hurricane damage of 1996. Therefore there will need to be some re-engineering of streambeds to create the necessary pools and riffles. (i.e. it is not simply a matter of planting trees to get shade on the stream in order to cool the water).

Greg also reminds us that the VA DOF has a tax credit program for not harvesting timber in the riparian zone. This may be a useful tool in our program.

Other suggestions made by Wichelns include obtaining from the SNP their data on existing brook trout populations and locations. I wonder if Jeb Wofford (SNP)can help with that. Also, there was a study on Dick McNear's property in Gid Brown Hollow of the changes in the stream and fish populations before and after he installed the CREP BMP's. We should contact McNear to get info on that study.

5) Don Loock (PEC) has previous contacts with some of the key landowners along the Hazel River just below the SNP, especially landowners whose land is in VOF easement. He has agreed to contact those landowners and arrange for a streamwalk with the landowners and Nat Gillespie and other interested parties, to identify opportunities for improvement of the stream and buffer, monitoring the stream, etc.

6) Others who may be interested to participate in this project include Fred W Fox of Orlean, VA, member of the federal caucus for the Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture; and Phillip Herzig, a native of Rappahannock County who has studied fish populations in the SNP as part of his graduate studies.