Great Smoky Mountains National Park Acting Superintendent Clay Jordan was presented with a $20,000 gift recently from the Little River Chapter of Trout Unlimited as part of their continuing efforts to support the park’s fisheries program. The donation includes $10,000 raised by the Little River Chapter at the 2014 Troutfest Banquet and $10,000 given by the Tennessee Council of Trout Unlimited through the conservation license plate fund.
The donated funds will support brook trout restoration efforts and brook trout genetic studies. Since 1987, the park has actively worked to restore native brook trout populations to their native range. Brook trout, the only trout species native to the Smokies, lost up to 75 percent of their historic range in the early 1900s due to destructive logging practices and competition from non-native rainbow and brown trout. Working with cooperators and volunteers, the park has restored over 14 miles of streams to brook trout habitat.
“Trout Unlimited continues to be a champion of brook trout restoration in the Smokies,” said Acting Superintendent Jordan. “We are grateful not only for this generous donation, but also for the countless hours of hands-on volunteer labor served in the park.”
The Little River Chapter is also supporting an additional brook trout genetic study through a $5,000 ‘Embrace-a-Stream’ Trout’ program grant and a $5,000 youth education program through the Steve Moore Youth Education Fund. This education fund was established in 2014 to recognize retired National Park Service Fisheries Biologist Steve Moore for his efforts in creating future conservation leaders. The funds are being used this year to establish the Trout-in-the-Classroom program in three east Tennessee schools.
“The Little River Chapter of Trout Unlimited is pleased to make these donations in our continual efforts to support our national treasure – the Great Smoky Mountain National Park,” said Mike Bryant, president of the Little River Chapter of Trout Unlimited. “We believe these donations will make a difference protecting and preserving the park for generations to come. The Little River Chapter has had a special relationship with the Park Service for over twenty years. As a non-profit organization, our mission is to protect and restore cold water resources and watersheds in and around the GSMNP. We continue to do this through our monetary donations as well as with our volunteer efforts.”