The Troutfest funds from the 2014 banquet will be used to partially support a fisheries seasonal GS-4 biotech who will assist with several projects. The first project will be to remap the upper distribution of brook trout in the (12) 303d listed streams as well as 16 additional streams. The goal of the project is to assess the upper distribution changes in SABT (Southern Appalachian Brook Trout) populations in relation to changes in water quality from 1991-2015. Headwater range loss has not been assessed since originally collected between 1995 and 2002. Revisiting these headwater locations will allow us to pair biological impact data with water quality data providing excellent “cause and effect” for current EPA air emission regulation review. These resource impact data will be used in conjunction with critical load modelling results to form air deposition policy aimed at resource protection. This study will be of value to fisheries managers across the southeastern U.S. as it relates water quality trends to population loss, helps identify sensitive habitat attributes and will provide data for use in conservation plans.
Other projects the seasonal biotech will assist with will be monitoring of brook trout populations around the park, including Lynn Camp Prong. Annually, fisheries staff monitors roughly 32 sites in 16 streams to assess population health and relate these data to water quality changes over time. Lynn Camp Prong monitoring will continue for a few years to monitor population recovery and also the onset of fishing. Additionally, the seasonal employee will assist with IBI (Biotic Integrity sampling) monitoring at several sites around the park in 2015, including EP Little River (above Elkmont), Cataloochee Creek (USGS station), Noland Creek, Hazel Creek and possibly two more. The seasonal GS-4 will also assist with Threatened and Endangered fish monitoring on Abrams Creek. These surveys are conducted using snorkeling survey techniques and provide an opportunity to see 10-25 fish species in their natural setting during surveys. The seasonal GS-4 will also assist with E. coli sampling of two small watersheds in the park as we attempt to mitigate the impacts of E. coli deposition from horses into area streams. Elevated E. coli levels can cause people to become sick in they ingest the water, so the surveys will be used to evaluate the effectiveness of mitigation techniques implemented in 2015 to address/circumvent E. coli from entering the stream.
In addition, the GS-seasonal will assist with a number of youth educational programs throughout the summer. These programs include collection of fish for streamside ecology instruction at the Tremont Kids Camp, Rivercourse Camp (Lake Logan, NC), Townsend Elementary Kids Camp, Pi Beta Phi Kids Camp and an Experience Your Smokies (EYS) adult group later in the year. Each of these provides the seasonal an opportunity to interact with the public and share their experiences throughout the year.
2014 Volunteer Hours: Trout Unlimited volunteers provided 1,125 hours of volunteer service to GRSM in 2014. These included hours for these projects: Lynn Camp Prong monitoring & brook trout transplants to Lynn Camp (298), angler creel surveys (24), brook trout monitoring (122), brook trout genetics (24), IBI Sampling (78), litter pickup (140) and water quality monitoring (439).
NPS Matching Funds Opportunity: Recently the National Park Service (NPS) announced a large matching fund source on behalf of the NPS Centennial celebration in 2016. We are able to match any non-federal dollars up to 50% (so a 2:1 match) for any natural resource projects we see as important to support our mission. I selected the brook trout distribution study to help feed the EPA secondary standard call for more biotic effects data due to acid rain. We are able to request $50,406 of Centennial funds to support (3) GS-4 seasonals, backcountry travel and OT to support the supplies/equipment funds requested from TU EAS. Our match for the Centennial relies upon the TU EAS funds as our match is based upon: $85,000 from Friends of the Smokies (ater quality monitoring), $10,000 (LRTU for from Troutfest for fisheries operations), $7,533 (TU EAS for supplies/equipment to support seasonals) and $4,300 (TU/Friends of the Smokies Scholarship program), which totals $106,833. We were able to request up to half of that amount, so our proposal came in at $50,406 ($3,010 short of what we could request as do not know about TU EAS funds as of yet). So, this is even better news on the matching front. This will help us fund the seasonals needed to do the work.
Note: 303d stands for the list of impaired and threatened waters under the Clean Water Act that require action plans to mitigate.