Citizen Science Project

Trout Unlimited and several of its chapters across the southeast are collaborating with the US Forest Service and NC Wildlife Resources Commission on a citizen science program to help fill important data and information gaps on coldwater species and habitat management issues in the southern Appalachians. 

The Land O’ Sky Chapter is supporting this effort with significant volunteer and financial resources.

We feel that we have a lot to offer in this collaboration – from the thousands of our members who may have an interest in learning and employing scientific protocols to aid in trout management to the ability to raise funds to help get surveys and assessments done, and ultimately conservation projects on the ground.

We are currently performing surveys and monitoring on two items: A) stream crossings to identify whether culverts, fords or bridges are barriers to fish passage; B) roads and trails to identify significant erosion and sedimentation sources that are delivering sediments to coldwater streams.

Ultimately we may also monitor water temperature and perform eDNA surveys to identify presence/absence of native brook trout on streams where we lack that information.  The end game is to develop with the Forest Service and State Wildlife Agencies a list of priority conservation projects that we can help them construct over the coming 10 years or so.

Two such projects might include road or trail remediation or replacing stream crossings that are barriers to fish passage with aquatic organism passage (AOP) friendly stream crossings.  There are other types of coldwater conservation projects that we might also engage in – from riparian and stream restoration to native brook trout re-introduction work.

We have two focal areas – the Wilson Creek Wild and Scenic River watershed in Avery and Caldwell Counties, NC; and an area that some of us are calling Sky Island.  This name came about because of a need to describe the area that comprises the headwaters of Catheys Creek and the Davidson, N and S Fork Mills, Pigeon and Tuckaseigee Rivers in Transylvania, Henderson, Buncombe, Haywood and Jackson Counties.

See the draft list and map of sites as of this moment.  It will be refined as the program develops.  Most likely, Land O’ Sky volunteers will be asked to monitor some temperature stations in the North and South Fork of the Mills River areas.  Data logging equipment will be provided.

To get involved in this exciting project contact Andy Brown, Stream Restoration Manager – Southern Appalachian Region (abrown@tu.org / (828) 674-1067).

For more background, check out Andy’s interview “The Drift”.

Take care of the fish, and the fishing will take care of itself.

Art Neumann, TU Founder

Links and Resources

  • Appalachian Brook Trout:  Learn more about North Carolina's native trout, which isn't really a trout.
  • A Native Son Returns:  What North Carolina is doing to understand and preserve our native brookies.
  • Davidson River Report:  2003/2017 Habitat Inventories Comparison (PNF/Pisgah District).
  • TU Status Report:  A report on the TU/USFS Southern Appalachian Aquatic Habitat Connectivity Partnership.