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DETU Water Quality Study for Hancock County Trout Streams

Original Study 2018-2020. Some of Maine’s salmon rivers have become too acidic to support naturally reproducing populations of Atlantic Salmon.  There is evidence that most Downeast streams are being pushed beyond the tolerance limits even for brook trout. The most obvious and best documented acid rain problems have been identified in Washington and Hancock Counties, but the western mountains and some parts of the Penobscot River watershed are also affected.  Acadia National Park may have the worst of it.  As improvements in air quality have led to improvements in soil acidity, studies have shown that there has been no recovery in base cations (calcium, sodium, potassium, and magnesium) in streams.  In Downeast Maine, low calcium and alkalinity are probably more limiting than low pH or high aluminum.  Therefore, the Downeast Trout Unlimited (DETU) chapter’s Brook Trout Water Quality Survey targeted calcium and alkalinity. For 2019, alkalinity was measured directly with a LaMonte alkalinity kit and calcium is inferred from a regression.  The results show that of the 60 sites investigated, the average alkalinity and range for Hancock and Washington Counties was 7.9 mg/L (range 0-15.5 mg/L) and 7.9 mg/L (range 4-16 mg/L), respectively.  Only the very best surface waters (e.g., an un-named tributary to the West Branch of the Union River at Mariaville Falls, and Northern Stream, a tributary to the East Machias River) probably have enough calcium (Ca ≥ 5 mg/L) to prevent losses of juvenile salmonids due to water quality alone.  This part of the project was finished in 2020, results on under Maine Brook Trout and Water Quality. We will have to enlist help from state and federal agencies to find solutions. 

Current Study. The current plan is to add crayfish data to streams where there is existing water quality information. Fish data is available from Maine Dept of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and Maine Dept of Marine Resources. State agency electrofishing studies mentions the presence or absence of crayfish but do not identify species. Crayfish are not found in most streams but are more common in lakes. Crayfish are an important food for salmonids and are an important factor for growth and final body size. Crustaceans are often more sensitive to water acidity and low calcium than are vertebrates. We are interested in how water chemistry impacts crayfish species’ distribution and abundance in Hancock County.  There appears to be 3-4 species of crayfish found in Hancock County.  The study area will include Acadia National Park. Volunteers will tend 3 traps left overnight and identify fish and crayfish found the next day.  Crayfish length is measured, sex is determined, and they are returned alive to their home stream or lake.  Crayfish abundance may be an important factor in controlling recreational fishing opportunities in eastern Maine. 

Conservation in Maine

We believe that healthy watersheds provide a natural environment which leads to a healthy, prosperous community and economy.

The Maine Council of Trout Unlimited and it's chapters have worked on many conservation/restoration projects. We have been advocates for many large projects like dam removals on the Penobscot and Kennebec rivers to open fish passage to historic spawning grounds. Our grassroots volunteers have also logged hundreds of hours restoring small streams and ponds, removing culverts and obstructions to connect our watersheds and hosting streamside cleanups.



Embrace-A-Stream (EAS) is the flagship grant program for funding Trout Unlimited's grassroots conservation efforts that advance TU's mission of conserving, protecting, and restoring coldwater fisheries and their watersheds. Overseen by a committee of TU volunteers and administered by its national office, Trout Unlimited annually raises money from TU members, corporate and agency partners, and foundations to distribute as small grants to local TU projects. Since its inception in 1975, EAS has funded 913 individual projects for a total of more than $3.6 million in direct cash grants. Local TU Chapters and Councils contributed over $7 million in cash and in-kind services to EAS funded projects.

For more information and to apply for a Embrace-A-Stream grant click here.


Project Funding

Support our CauseConservation projects often require costly permits, heavy equipment and the efforts engineers and biologists. While our chapters provide the volunteers to complete these projects, funding is often the biggest hurdle.

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