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Your Fisheries Habitat Fee

Restoring and Conserving Fish Habitat in New Hampshire

 

Brook trout

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When you buy a fishing license in New Hampshire, $1 of your license fee goes into the Fisheries Habitat Account. Since it was created in 2000, this account has funded many restoration and land conservation efforts. Typically, it funds about 10–20% of completed fisheries habitat projects. Recent projects have included Lake Horace Marsh in Weare, where the aquatic plant community and warm water fish habitat has been greatly improved. At Thompson Brook in Greenland, we are restoring brook trout habitat and connectivity.


One special effort is Nash Stream in Coos County, which was named one of the ten “Waters to Watch” in the U.S. by the National Fish Habitat Partnership. The Nash Stream Restoration Project began in 2005. Because the stream is so large, we first had to conduct scientific and rigorous assessments of the existing conditions, and then develop plans to restore the river processes and fish habitat in the mainstream and its tributaries.

 

Brook trout

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Through the assessment work, we found that the watershed was almost devoid of large in-stream wood, a vital component of healthy brook trout habitat. Think about that deep pool formed by a downed log—that’s where the trout are. For several years, we have been restoring in-stream wood, doing it at a pace that does not suddenly “overload” the streams. In the tributaries, our work focused on felling nearby trees, cutting them into appropriate lengths and then carrying them to the stream and placing them strategically to look and function exactly as trees that fall into the streams. In the main stream, our work has focused mostly on creating large wood jams on the sides of the stream channel, like those that naturally occur in rivers. We constructed large ones, so they would be stable and provide excellent trout habitat for decades.


Just as people need to move around the landscape, so do trout. Studies conducted in northern New Hampshire clearly showed that wild trout often migrate dozens of miles in any given year, often to find suitable spawning and winter habitat. This is another component of healthy trout habitat. We have restored this connectivity in the Nash Stream watershed by the targeted removal or replacement of stream crossings, such as culverts. In one stream, wild trout migrated upstream through the new crossing within minutes. Clearly, these trout were actively migrating upstream to spawn.


What does all this restoration work do? It makes wild trout for you to enjoy catching.