Pittsburgh – Although its mission has always been coldwater
conservation, Trout Unlimited has issued an urgent new message
about trout fisheries and global warming.
Using its own studies and new data from the U.S. Forest Service,
TU predicts climate change will cause the widespread loss of trout
and salmon – as much as 90 percent in Appalachia and other
regions– over the next 50 years unless the public and private
sectors partner to protect habitat now.
”Even a 41/2-degree increase in the mean July air temperature
can have a dramatic impact on trout fisheries,” said TU fisheries
scientist Nathaniel Gillespie, who warned of an expanding list of
endangered trout species and a huge decline in common
“Climate change will add additional stress to areas already
heavily impacted by humans in terms of landscape and water
The challenge is to help fisheries build resilience now,
Gillespie said, through riparian tree-plantings, erosion and
sedimentation control, dam removal, and restoration of flood
plains. “We need to protect areas where fish are still in good
shape,” he said. “We have to look at whole watersheds, get rid of
barriers and reconnect streams so fish have cooler water to move
to, provide shade, keep livestock out of sensitive areas, etc.”
TU’s public stance on global warming coincides with the
introduction of the Climate Security Act (S. 2191) which would
enable Congress to provide $175 billion over 30 years for projects
aimed at helping fisheries cope with reduced snowpack, earlier
spring runoff and other effects of rising mercury.
The measure was approved by a Senate committee Dec. 6 and could
be scheduled for a full Senate vote by the end of the year.
Tom Shetterly, resource management chairman of the Chestnut
Ridge Chapter of Trout Unlimited and a southwestern Pennsylvania
representative on the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission,
called TU’s statement “long overdue,” and said the bottom line is
that “we have to pull the reins in on fossil fuels, which cause
He said state agencies, not volunteers, should be expected to
take the lead in protecting streams, because they hold the purse
strings and have the expertise. “A lot of physical things have to
be done,” he said, “and physical things cost money.”
Ken Undercoffer, president of the Pennsylvania Council of Trout
Unlimited, which oversees the commonwealth’s 53 TU chapters, hopes
TU’s call to action will expand conservation efforts.
“The chapters have always been involved in stream work,” he
said. “This just gives them special impetus to do more of the same.
It helps get the issue of global warming and the whole concept of
protecting streams more into the public consciousness.”