FALMOUTH, Maine — Maine Audubon, Trout Unlimited and the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (IFW) are seeking volunteer anglers to survey remote ponds in western and northern Maine for brook trout this coming fishing season.
Survey information collected by anglers will be used by the nonprofit organizations and IFW to help identify populations of brook trout to be eligible for conservation management practices.
The Brook Trout Pond Survey project is in its third year. Maine is home to 97 percent of the intact wild brook trout lake and pond habitat in the eastern United States. Brook trout require clean, cold water and pristine habitat to survive – the population health of brook trout is a key indicator of a healthy ecosystem that also indicates the health of other species, including moose, deer, otters, kingfishers, herons and osprey.
The quality and abundance of Maine brook trout has declined in recent years because of the introduction of competing species. Brook trout are important to Maine and the nation’s ecological and sporting heritage and are also a valuable recreational and economic state resource.
Hundreds of remote ponds in the state have never been surveyed by fisheries biologists nor have any record of being stocked with fish.
“Identifying the lakes and ponds with native brook trout will greatly assist IFW in planning our conservation management strategies over the next several decades,” noted Merry Gallagher of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife in a press release. “The success of this project is entirely dependent on the data collected by volunteer anglers.” The project’s focus on remote lakes and ponds offers anglers a chance to explore new areas of the state. “Volunteers should be enthusiastic about fishing for brook trout, be comfortable in remote settings and have a sense of adventure!” noted Jeff Reardon of Trout Unlimited.
Last year, 66 anglers contributed nearly 1,200 volunteer hours to the survey project. Thanks to their efforts, 66 ponds from the original list of 372 were surveyed. IFW biologists also conducted official surveys on 33 ponds that volunteers from 2011 identified as brook trout ponds, and confirmed brook trout presence in 26 of these ponds.
In 2013, volunteer anglers are needed to survey 307 ponds, spread from south of Rangeley to Caribou in Aroostook County. “Enthusiasm is already running high this year,” noted Emily Bastian, the project’s coordinator at Maine Audubon, in the press release. “The project’s success will depend on renewed participation from past volunteers and new participants. This is an exciting opportunity for people who enjoy fishing and exploring Maine’s outdoors to contribute to the conservation of native brook trout, a significant and unique resource for Maine.”
April 30, 2013 Contact: Michelle Smith Communications & Marketing Manager firstname.lastname@example.org (207) 781-6180 x209 Mobile: (207) 838-0511Surveys can be completed any time before September 30, 2013. Project partners will provide maps, data sheets and instructions on how to survey each pond. To sign up to volunteer, please contact Emily Bastian at (207) 781-6180 x207 or email@example.com.