ADK Brook Trout Past and Present - Part 3

Continued from prior post: ADK Brook Trout Past and Present - Parts 1&2

One of the greatest things the state ever did was institute the Heritage Brook Trout Project. Much of what I know of it is from the document "Heritage Brook Trout Project Summary Report" by David L. Perkins and Charles C. Krueger of Cornell University. The project has undergone some changes I'm not aware of and to be honest I'm not sure if the project is still in existence. What I am sure of is that biologists now have something to build off of that paved the way for native fish conservation.

The state realised through a study in 1989 that less than four percent of New York lakes remained that were untainted by the stocking programs initiated as early as the 1800's. They also understood negative impact the hatchery fish could have on the "fitness and genetic character of wild fish stocks." With this in mind in 1989 and 1991 wild fish were captured from know unstocked locations across the state in thirty-four locations and genetically analysed to determine the purity of the strain. It was determined that based on the general localities of the capture sites, the fish were all genetically different suggesting unique strains. A ton of genetic studies ensued none of which I understand but the end result was the classification of ten heritage strain brook trout whose populations resided in lakes and could be used for further research and propagation.
A Horn Lake strain heritage brook trout

The ten strains acknowledged were from Basalm Lake, Dix Pond, Honnedaga Lake, Horn Lake, Little Tupper Lake, Nate Pond, Stink Lake, Tamarack Pond, Tunis Lake, and Windfall Pond. Unfortunately at some point during the early 1990's the Tamarack Pond strain was lost from what, I cannot discover.

Since then ponds have been restocked with an assortment of these strains seemingly most often with the Windfall strain. Careful consideration is taken to ensure the population is not interfered with by other strains, usually through pond reclamation, or the extermination of all fish life in that pond with the use of the chemical Rotenone. This ensures their is no competition mainly from invasive species but also from hatchery introduced fish.
A nice brookie from an isolated high elevation stream, this fish's ancestors have been here thousands of years.
These ponds are being restocked with pure heritage strain fish, that is, with fish bred from wild caught specimens that produce eggs for the state hatchery in Rome. There is still a hybrid program in effect as these fish have done well in the park but hopefully with the continued success of the Heritage program the need for hybrids to appease the fishing community will be averted.

I hope you gained something from these posts and I hope you will do your part in the conservation of these fish. Local trout unlimited chapters often work with the state on projects like this so please get involved or donate when you can to ensure the future of our wild fishery.

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