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Social change may help aquatic life

Did somebody say trout?

Yes, that time of year is quickly approaching — the opening day of trout season statewide is April 17. That’s a few months away, certainly good news for area anglers who are yearning to get outdoors.

It’s clear, after a recent annual watershed summit of Trout Unlimited, that stocking will be important, as has become the norm.

Lycoming College’s Clean Water Institute and Susquehanna University’s Fresh Water Institute have been studying local streams for years. Students have been measuring the fish population and monitoring what’s happening in watersheds that affect aquatic life here, including the Eastern Hellbender, the official state amphibian.

During samplings at 88 sites, wild trout were found at only 15, illustrating why stocking is so important for sportsmen.

Besides geography, high water events may be to blame. Efforts have been made to restore stream banks and reduce acid mine drainage as well as collect data and compare findings to statewide data. A number of organizations are involved, including Trout Unlimited, the Northcentral Pennsylvania Conservancy and Lycoming Creek Watershed Association, in a massive effort to clean up and stabilize area streams and watersheds.

As for stocking, the fish commission’s website indicated 120,000 adult trout were stocked in select waterways statewide during the fall and winter. No schedule was available as of Wednesday, other than to say, “Current year stockings are planned throughout the year.”

“Significant resources” are used by the commission to restore and improve habitat to keep the need for stocking at a minimum. Restoring some natural aquatic habitats will require significant social change and renewed appreciation for original natural habitats, before stocking will no longer be required,” the website states.

Social change. We suspect the commission means more than just farm practices but how our society, as a whole, cares for the environment.

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