Mid-Atlantic Council Happenings
Don Haynes, Chair—Mid-Atlantic Council Trout Unlimited
The Mid-Atlantic Council (MAC) has had a busy year. We’d like to share with you some of the key issues we worked on and highlight notable efforts by MAC Chapters.
STATE FRACKING REGULATIONS: The Council provided extensive feedback on Maryland Department of the Environment’s (MDE) proposed regulations to govern fracking activity in Maryland. The Council is waiting to see how the issue plays out in the legislature, as bills for a permanent ban or an extended moratorium are advanced. At that point, we'll determine if further response is warranted.
WILD AND SCENIC RIVER STATUS FOR SAVAGE RIVER: The Council has worked closely with the Upper Potomac Riverkeeper and the Savage River Watershed Association to explore the possibility of nominating the Savage River for federal designation as a Wild and Scenic River. The group is gathering local information and public support necessary to petition the National Park Service to begin a formal review of the watershed.
NORTH BRANCH CASSELMAN MINE DISCHARGE PERMIT: MAC sent comments to MDE on their tentative determination for permitting a large increase in process and storm water. Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) characterized this Use Class III stream as a cool water stream with no self-sustaining trout in the main stem but with brook trout in nearby tributaries. Temperature, conductivity, monitoring, and the Tier II section of the Casselman River were comment topics.
HAMPSTEAD WASTEWATER TREATMENT PLANT AND DEEP RUN: The Patapsco Valley Chapter worked with DNR to gather and compile a substantial amount of temperature, benthic, and water chemistry data on Deep Run as well as other streams within the North Branch Patapsco watershed. Dr. Ray Morgan has been asked to review the information relative to the potential impacts of a very large discharge to this small stream. This issue is linked to the MDE change in reclassification policy and the legal action we are reviewing will tie these issues together. This issue may require litigation to resolve.
TRIENNIAL REVIEW/RECLASSIFICATION POLICY CHANGE: The Council has been closely following MDE’s Triennial Stream Review process. The threat of the review is that some protected trout waters may be re-classified, removing protections from those streams. The Council is seeking an opinion from the Environmental Protection Agency on the federal position on designated uses and water quality standards to determine whether the newly proposed MDE positions are consistent with the Clean Water Act.
SOUTH BRANCH PATAPSCO PROPOSAL FOR NEW DELAYED HARVEST SECTION: The Council, along with the Patapsco Valley Chapter, responded to a DNR request for a recommendation for an alternate stocking location for trout that will no longer be stocked at the river's Avalon section following the Bloede Dam removal. A 1.6-mile section of the South Branch Patapsco between Gaither Road and Sykesville Road was suggested and further discussion of the possibility of making the section a delayed harvest section was requested.
ACCESS RESTORATION AT MORGAN RUN: The Patapsco Valley Chapter is planning to restore habitat surrounding the special fishing access for anglers with disabilities on Morgan Run. Over the years since the special access was constructed, the stream has shifted and the area accessible to anglers no longer holds trout. A stream restoration specialist has volunteered to design and secure the permits. The construction money will have to be raised.
COLD WATER RELEASES FROM TRIADELPHIA RESERVOIR: The Potomac-Patuxent Chapter is working with the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission to secure a constant cold water release from Triadelphia Reservoir to support a year-round population of trout in the Patuxent below Brighton Dam.
UPPER GUNPOWDER WATERSHED BROOK TROUT CONSERVATION PARTNERSHIP: The Maryland Chapter (MDTU) has begun an effort to protect and restore native brook trout in the upper Gunpowder watershed. The effort involves a diverse partnership of landowners, Trout Unlimited, state fisheries managers, government representatives from Carroll and Baltimore Counties as well as business owners and residents of the watershed. In the first phase, the partnership has collected temperature data with 29 recording thermometers in streams throughout the watershed. This will identify where high summer water temperatures are suitable for brook trout habitat and where mitigation is needed to expand their viable range.
JONES FALLS RESTORATION PROJECT: MDTU, in partnership with Blue Water Baltimore (BWB), has completed the restoration of a section of the Jones Falls, a productive wild brown trout stream, replacing a concrete-lined channel with natural stream habitat. The $600,000 project was funded by the Chesapeake and Coastal Bays Trust Fund and was completed in September. Volunteers from MDTU and BWB are being trained to monitor the stability of the project over the next five years.
TROUT IN THE CLASSROOM (TIC): Statewide the Council’s TIC program serves 86 locations with 106 tanks in Montgomery, Howard, Baltimore and Washington Counties. We have seen some attrition in Montgomery County which has lowered the overall numbers but have several new schools participating in Baltimore, Howard and Washington Counties. By year’s end, trout eggs were successfully delivered to all schools and tanks thanks to 10 coordinators throughout Maryland and DC and almost 30 additional volunteers. Most of the delivery people and coordinators are TU members from chapters throughout the council.
MAC AT TU’S SOUTHEAST REGIONAL MEETING: The TU Southeast Regional Meeting was held in Roanoke, VA, May 20-22. Well over 100 representatives from chapters and councils from PA, MD, WV, KT, TN, NC, SC, GA, and VA attended. Scott Scarfone, MDTU, gave a presentation on the Upper Gunpowder Watershed Brook Trout Conservation Partnership to a very attentive audience. Don Haynes, MAC Council Chair, conducted a session on Strategic Planning for Chapters and Councils. Workshops were held on Climate Change, Stream Resiliency, Tailwater Management, and Angler Science as well as topics such as membership engagement and recruitment, and outreach to veterans. The Regional meetings are shaping up to be a key element in regional and watershed-wide collaboration between Councils and Chapters. If you've never attended a regional, consider going next year.
Thanks for taking the time to review this. MAC can certainly use the support of even more TU volunteers around the state. Please consider contributing a few hours to your local Chapter or to the Council.