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Local News

A push to update PA stream designations for wild trout protection

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Danielle Smith, Public News Service

Pennsylvania’s wild trout streams are getting some much-needed attention and outdoor enthusiasts across the state can voice their views on safeguarding fisheries.

The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission has collected data on 24 proposed Wild Trout Streams, recommending they receive official designation to preserve their “exceptional” trout habitats.

Nate Walters, coldwater unit leader for the commission, said protecting streams supports healthy, self-sustaining wild trout populations, which in turn is vital for water quality.

“It’s important to protect them from any kind of human impacts that can further degrade these streams,” Walters asserted. “Again, it’s important to protect these streams for the water quality and habitat protection standpoint, whether it’s for instream or the wetlands surrounding the streams.”

Walters pointed out all Pennsylvania residents can submit public comments about the Wild Trout Streams designations online. Pennsylvania has more than 80,000 miles of streams and rivers, most of which support fishing, kayaking and boating activities.

Alexandra Kozak, Pennsylvania field manager for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, said officially adding streams to the state’s Wild Trout Stream roster will not only preserve world-class fishing opportunities but boost local economies and tourism.

“We have a $58 billion outdoor recreation economy,” Kozak explained. “Considering that roughly 40% of the streams across the state are not suitable for fishing, swimming or even drinking water, according to the DEP, it makes sense to safeguard these exceptional waterways that are already meeting top standards, that can continue to support our outdoor recreation and then continue to drive, you know, our economy.”

Kozak noted their 2020 survey showed 1.2 million Pennsylvanians fished local waterways. She added local businesses like fly shops, fishing guides and bait stores benefit from anglers visiting these areas.

This article originally appeared on Public News Service and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.