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Questions .....

Here in Pennsylvania our state fish is Salvelinus fontinalis, the Brook trout and our state tree is the Eastern Hemlock. Interestingly these two organisms have a perfect relationship outside of the honored places they hold. The Hemlock is the perfect tree for brook trout stream. They grow closer to the water’s edge of a stream than other tree species will which stabilizes banks, provides canopy to protect the cool waters from the heat of the sun and provides fantastic habitat that protects wild brook trout from predation. Strong currents can often erode stream banks but the roots of the Hemlock will hold firm, often creating undercuts that provide cover for brook trout. This past week I visited one of my favorite Class A Wild trout streams in north-central Pennsylvania and found that someone had recently cut dozens of young Hemlock along the banks of the creek, dropping them across the stream. I’ve heard about this happening on other streams but had just witnessed it for the first time myself. I’ve got questions. I’ll start with who is doing this? In this case the stream is on state forest land, so what state agency involved? Is this a proven method to improve habitat? Is this a research level stream habitat improvement with future impact studies? Is this just some “let’s cut all these trees young Hemlock down and see what happens? As I stated earlier, this stream is already classified as Class A Wild, meaning it already has the biomass threshold of wild brook trout present. Brook trout have swam in our mountain streams since the last ice age, and thrived in spite of man rather than as a result of man. I have questions……


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