Eastern Brook Trout: Roadmap to Restoration

Our Brook Trout Heritage

The brook trout is an American symbol of persistence,
adaptability, and the pristine wilderness that covered
North America prior to European settlement. It is the
only native trout that inhabits the cold, clear streams of the
eastern United States. It is the state fish in many eastern states and
is a prized sport fish by anglers. It is truly a heritage fish species.
Unfortunately, historical land uses have taken a toll on our
landscape, greatly diminishing the presence of brook trout
throughout its native range. Today it is estimated that less than
9% of the areas that historically supported brook trout are intact.
Most brook trout are relegated to headwater streams, where forest
cover is still prevalent. Unable to thrive in poor quality water or
degraded habitats, brook trout are excellent indicators of clean
water and healthy aquatic systems. Their disappearance within
a watershed indicates environmental decline. The documented
decline of brook trout throughout their eastern range should
serve as a warning about the state of our nation’s waters.
The situation is certainly not hopeless. Through a coordinated
and focused effort, we have a unique opportunity to reverse the
trend of brook trout decline by restoring habitat and improving
water quality, to benefit both brook trout and human habitat
for generations to come.

Challenges in the North Region:

  • Sediment and high water temperature caused by land use changes
  • Fragmented populations from dams and culverts
  • Exotic species such as smallmouth bass and non-native trout

Read the full report here

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