Waters to Watch

A list assembled by the nation’s leading authorities on aquatic conservation to create cleaner and healthier habitats for the many fish and wilfdlife species and people who call these areas home

So what is Waters to watch and why Should I care?

The 10 Waters to Watch list, assembled by the nation’s leading authorities on aquatic conservation, is a collection of rivers, streams and shores that will be cleaner and healthier habitats for the many fish and wildlife species and people who call these areas home.

Thanks to the combined actions of concerned community groups, non-profit organizations, local watershed groups, Native American tribes and state and federal agencies, these waters are being improved by planting stream-side vegetation, removing structures blocking fish from habitat and protecting bodies of water from the effects of industrial processes, agriculture and livestock.

They are representative of freshwater to marine waters across the country including lakes and reservoirs that are improving through the conservation efforts of the National Fish Habitat Action Plan — a bold initiative to reverse persistent declines in aquatic habitat.

1. Bear Creek, Colorado

Project Submission by: The Western Native Trout Initiative

The Western Native Trout Initiative funded Phases I and II that provided short-term immediate relief for sediment issue on Bear Creek in 2010 and 2011. These projects were meant to protect the Bear Creek Cutthroat habitat until a broader sediment control plan was in place. In 2013 WNTI funded a portion of Phase III, which, coupled with a National Fish and Wildlife Foundation grant, will provide permanent sediment control for the Bear Creek Greenback cutthroat trout, which have been recently considered the only remaining population of true native Greenback Cutthroat trout.

Read More

2. Boardman River, Michigan

Project Submission by: The Great Lakes Basin Partnership

The nearly 300 square mile Boardman River watershed is located in Grand Traverse and Kalkaska Counties in northwest Michigan. With the exception of the extreme lower river and three impoundments, the Boardman is an oligotrophic river system with excellent water quality characterized by cold temperatures, high dissolved oxygen concentrations, and nutrients provided by allochthonous inputs. Of the approximately 179 miles of river and tributary streams in the Boardman system, 36 miles are designated as “Blue Ribbon” trout streams, providing premier fish habitat. Anglers from near and far come to enjoy the predominantly resident brook and brown trout fishery, providing important economic benefits to the region. The entire watershed is also used for activities such as canoeing, tubing, kayaking, hiking, hunting, and bird watching. These uses make it a destination for an estimated 2 million Recreational User Days annually.

Read More

3. Eel River Delta, California

Project Submission by: The California Fish Passage Forum

Tidal marsh enhancement of habitat to benefit Pacific salmon, migratory waterfowl, Tidewater goby, Green sturgeon and scores of other species that once flourished in the Eel River Delta. Just as the Eel River Delta provides a rich habitat mosaic for abundant aquatic and terrestrial species, so too does it host flourishing agricultural communities, primarily dairy and beef cattle. All of the proposed projects underway in the Delta seek to reverse adverse drainage patterns that have resulted from more than a century of tidal marsh reclamation.

Read More

4. Lake Bloomington, Illinois

Project Submission by: The Reservoir Fish Habitat Partnership

Lake Bloomington is located in central Illinois about 160 miles northeast of St. Louis and approximately 125 miles southwest of Chicago. It was constructed in 1929 by the impoundment of Money Creek. Lake Bloomington, as of 2007, has a surface area of 572 acres, 9.5 miles of shoreline, a maximum depth of 35 feet, a mean depth of 12.9 feet, and a storage volume of 6768 acre feet. The lake was constructed to expand the water supply for the City of Bloomington and several other small communities. To fully utilize the lake’s potential, recreation and residential development were established as second and third priority uses, respectively. The lake supports a diverse group of users including Camp Pearis, a Girl Scout Camp which houses over 1300 scouts during the summer and the Easter Seals Rehabilitation Center which serves over 1500 children with special needs annually.

Read More

5. Montana Creek, Alaska

Project Submission by: The Mat-Su Basin Salmon Habitat Partnership

Mat-Su’s Montana Creek has been specified by the State of Alaska as important for the spawning, rearing, or migration of anadromous fish (AS 41.14.870). This alluvial system has high quality spawning gravels and provides critical spawning, rearing, and overwintering habitats for Chinook, coho, pink, and chum salmon. It receives heavy angling attention during the summer months and is the focus of a variety of ongoing habitat and fish assessment projects, streambank restoration activities, as well as parcel conservation activities and community asset planning. This water is also important to watch due to its location within the Mat-Su Basin, a fast-growing area in the state that currently has the most fish stocks of concern in Alaska. These stocks include Susitna River basin sockeye salmon and six stocks of Chinook, including Goose Creek Chinook (enters the Susitna just downstream of Montana Creek).

Read More

6. Milltown Island Estuary, Washington

Project Submission by: The Pacific Marine and Estuarine Partnership

Milltown Island historically was an estuarine wetland and is located in the Skagit tidal delta. Restoration of this island was identified in the federally adopted Skagit Chinook Recovery Plan. Phased restoration began at the 212-acre Milltown Island in 2007 through the use of explosives to breach the dike surrounding the perimeter of the island. The primary purpose of restoration at Milltown is to increase rearing habitat capacity to natural origin juvenile Chinook salmon. Carrying capacity in the Skagit estuary is limiting the Chinook population to recover.

Read More

7. Muddy River, Nevada

Project Submission by: The Desert Fish Habitat Partnership

The Muddy River Ecosystem Recovery project is designed to recovery the endemic Moapa dace (Moapa coriacea) and other native biodiversity dependent upon the Muddy River in southern Nevada. It is a basin wide recovery effort focused primarily on upstream portions of the river (springheads, springbrooks), but extending downstream nearly 30 km to Lake Mead.

Read More

8. Nash Stream, New Hampshire

Project Submission by: The Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture

Historically, Nash Stream (NH) was known as a high quality wild Brook Trout stream that provided exceptional angling opportunities. Unfortunately, in 1969, the dam used to release water from Nash Bog Pond for log drives failed, sending a torrent of water akin to the 500-year flood event down Nash Stream. Immediately thereafter and in response to the dam failure, stretches of Nash Stream were straightened and its banks made higher by bulldozers. Consequently, much of the instream and riparian habitat was altered to the detriment of wild Brook Trout and other fish species. Additionally, many essential Brook Trout spawning tributaries were culverted with undersized pipes that impeded fish passage and/or have led to geomorphic instability.

Read More

9. Tolomato River, Florida

Project Submission by: The Southeast Aquatic Resources Partnership & The Atlantic Coastal Fish Habitat Partnership

During the past two years, both SARP and ACFHP have supported marsh restoration/living shoreline projects on the Tolomato River in the Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve (GTMNERR). These adjacent projects are located on the southern portion of the Guana Peninsula and are helping to create a contiguous swath of restored marsh that is improving and enhancing fish habitat, preventing shoreline erosion, and fostering opportunities for community stewardship and involvement that will provide benefits for years to come. They are also helping to address national conservation goals, regional habitat priorities and coast wide conservation objectives identified by SARP and ACFP, and that are found in the Southeast Aquatic Habitat Plan (SAHP).

Read More

10. Twelvemile Creek, Alaska

Project Submission by: The Southeast Alaska Fish Habitat Partnership

The Twelvemile Creek watershed encompasses 28 miles of salmon and other fish-bearing streams as well as 59 miles of additional streams covering an area just under 20 square miles in central Prince of Wales Island in Southeast Alaska. Logging practices that took place during the era when there was little protection for stream habitat and adjacent riparian vegetation left Twelvemile Creek Watershed in an impaired state. These practices included clear-cutting riparian corridors (areas adjacent to streams), removing large wood from the stream channels, extracting gravel from the stream to build roads, and yarding logs over the stream banks and through riparian vegetation.

Read More