23 March 2007

Something a little different...

"The only way to live sustainably is to live like a hippie in a hut at the edge of the woods."

I'd love to do it, but I don't think my wife would go for it.

I posted the picture of the brookie because I want to talk about fish. I just wrote an article for my local paper about the trout found in our area. I love trout, they are my fish. When I was a kid, my dad would take me trout fishing in north Georgia. We'd catch dozens of Rainbow Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss). Most of them were "wild" fish with incredible coloration. In fact, the most beautiful colors I have ever seen were on a young fish I caught in an Appalachian stream. It was gorgeous...

When I was a kid, catching a Brook Trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) was the Holy Grail of trout fishing. Brookies were native to north Georgia, but had become very rare. The fact is, those incredibly beautiful rainbows had displaced them.

I caught my first brookie on a trip to northern Pennsylvania. I was about 12, and we were visiting my step-dad's family in McKean County. I went fishing in a small stream and caught a number of beautiful brookies. It was an experience I'll never forget...

Fast forward more than a decade. Now I live in the Finger Lakes, and I can fish for trout regularly. The only problem is that there still aren't any brookies! From what I can tell, there are three reasons for this:

1. 19th century deforestation (causing erosion and silting)
2. Straightening of streams (habitat eradicated)
3. Introduction of non-native species (Brown Trout)

What really pains me is that there are two streams within a couple of miles of my home that used to (pre-settlement) support Brookies. Now these streams are almost entirely devoid of fish. One of these days I'll take a picture of them and post it, but know that they should look like this:

I encourage you to support land restoration efforts and seriously consider whether continued land development is worth the price. Look into joining Audubon, the Sierra Club, Trout Unlimited, or any organization dedicated to environmental protection.

Yeah, I know I sound like a socialist-environmentalist, but I'm not. I'm a gun-toting, property tax-hating, big business-opposing, freedom-loving-environmentalist.

...and they're two very different things.

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