Critical Native Brook Trout Stream Restored

 

One of the most valuable waters for native brook trout in West Virginia is now accessible to those fish once again.   Through a cooperative project among several state agencies, including DNR, DEP, and researchers at WVU, trout can travel up Beaver Creek unimpeded again.

"Beaver Creek is one of the primary spawning tributaries for brook trout for Upper Shavers Fork above Cheat Bridge," said Steve Brown of the DNR. "There are several tributaries up there that are important, but Beaver Creek is probably the most important."

Excavation crews removed a barrier which was blocking the fish from running up into the headwater to spawn.   The old culvert was replaced with new and larger tile creating a continuous flowing stream under the old railroad.

"Fish could spawn in Beaver Creek and they could move downstream, but they couldn’t move upstream," said Brown. "It’s a good cold water input for Upper Shavers.  The main stem is not as cold as it used to be way back when.  A lot of the trout depend on those tributaries for spawning."

The removal of the barrier is expected to impact the native trout population as much as a mile up stream and down stream of where the old culvert has been removed.    It’s one of a number of culverts and obstacles which block native streams, cutting off headwater access to spawning fish.

"As we’ve learned more and more about that, we’ve begun to focus more and more on it," Brown said. "There’s a lot of culverts and railroads where the culvert is hanging three feet over the water.  A lot of us have been pecking away at the problem over the years."

The project wasn’t easy.   All heavy equipment, materials, and construction supplies had to be hauled to the site via rail.  There is no road access to the site where the culvert was replaced.    State officials are applying for grants and other funding to continue the process of physical habitat restoration to the state’s native trout waters.


 

 





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