Trout streams to benefit from RCPP grants

Date: 
Fri, 02/12/2016

TROUT UNLIMITED PRESS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Feb. 12, 2016

Contact:  Steve Moyer:  (703) 284-9406, smoyer@tu.org,  (TU National)

Randy Scholfield, (720) 375-3961, TU communications, rscholfield@tu.org

 

Trout streams to benefit from RCPP grants

WASHINGTON, D.C.— Trout streams from Minnesota, Wisconsin and New Hampshire to Oregon and Idaho are about to get a big boost thanks to major grants announced today from the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP).

“Broad partnerships and large-scale restoration efforts are essential to successful conservation, but have historically been a challenge to implement,” said Steve Moyer, TU’s vice president for government affairs. “By providing grants for regional partnership efforts, the RCPP is leading the way for successful landscape-scale conservation that improves some of the nation’s best trout streams.”

The 2016 RCCP grants included several to Trout Unlimited projects that benefit important trout fisheries: 

In southwest Wisconsin and southeast Minnesota, part of a region known as the Driftless Area, TU will be working with a range of partners to restore spring creeks, improve angling access, and enhance habitat on agricultural lands. The Driftless Area is full of fertile spring creeks—some 3,600 miles of them. However, many of these streams are subject to erosion and sedimentation, and sorely in need of improvement. Thanks to a five-year, $2.9 million NRCS grant, TU and its partners will be able to restore another 25 miles of Driftless Area spring creeks.

“Driftless Area restoration projects lead to better habitat and improved water quality, which leads to more trout, which leads to more angling opportunities and stronger local economies,” said Keith Curley, TU’s vice president for Eastern conservation. “But the benefits don’t stop there. This grant will also help producers conserve soils, improve habitat for rare and sensitive species, and send clean, cold water downstream to the Mississippi River and Gulf of Mexico.” 

In New Hampshire, TU is partnering with The Conservation Fund to reconnect brook trout habitat on the Beebe River. Thanks to a $524,000 grant from the NRCS, TU will be able to remove five culverts that obstruct fish passage in order to reconnect tributaries to the mainstem Beebe River. The project will also involve riparian revegetation and the installation of large woody material for instream brook trout habitat. The beauty of this project is that, thanks to The Conservation Fund’s work, the restored habitat will be protected in perpetuity as a working forest.

In the Nevada, Idaho and Oregon portions of the Owyhee Basin, TU will work with 17 different partner organizations to increase drought resiliency across this iconic landscape to benefit agricultural operations, rural communities and fish and wildlife. Project partners will work together to develop on-the-ground projects that restore stream and riparian function, protect and enhance important cold water springs and groundwater exchange, and enhance wet meadow habitats, all of which will keep water in streams longer for livestock, wildlife and fish—including the unique desert-type redband trout that are native to this rugged landscape. These projects also will benefit other sensitive species like sage grouse and Columbia spotted frogs that depend on healthy streams and wetlands.

In the Klamath River Basin of Oregon, the NRCS awarded TU and partners $7.6 million to address problems of drought and limited instream flows and external loading of nutrients into Upper Klamath Lake, problems that persist downstream through the mainstem Klamath River. Under this grant, TU will work with multiple private ranches on Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) projects that will include piping to reduce out-of-stream diversions from designated critical habitat for listed bull trout and Klamath redband trout. These projects will improve water quality and restore habitat connectivity for these and other at-risk native species. Other projects under this grant will include improvements to instream, riparian, and wetland habitats to support recovery of native fish populations. Project partners will track the results, including in-stream water quality, acre-feet of water saved through irrigation efficiencies, pasture condition scores, and acres of restored wetlands and proper functioning riparian buffers.

Chrysten Lambert, director of TU’s Oregon Water Project, said, “This award will allow Trout Unlimited and its partners to collaborate with private landowners in the upper Klamath Basin to help balance the water needs of agriculture and natural resources. Improving irrigation efficiency to restore instream flow and improve water quality are critical steps for the recovery of native fish in the upper basin and for sustaining the local ranching economy. These projects will also help the basin become more resilient to drought and climate change.”

The RCCP program, an innovation contained in the 2012 Farm Bill reauthorization,  promotes coordination between NRCS and its partners to deliver conservation assistance to producers and landowners, yielding landscape scale restoration for fisheries. NRCS provides assistance to producers through partnership agreements and through program contracts or easement agreements.

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Trout Unlimited is the nation’s oldest and largest coldwater fisheries conservation organization dedicated to conserving, protecting and restoring North America’s trout and salmon and their watersheds. Follow TU on Facebook and Twitter, and visit us online at tu.org.

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