Culverts prevent fish migration. Photo by Ecosystem Services LLC

Our partners at the The Rapidan Chapter of Trout Unlimited have received a grant of $10,000 through the Trout Unlimited national Embrace A Stream grant program to support a fish passage barrier removal project in Madison County, Virginia led by Friends of the Rappahannock. The TU chapter will use the funds to help restore a small tributary stream in the Upper Rapidan Watershed in order to reconnect vital wild native brook trout habitat.

“We’re thrilled to be able to do more great work restoring and improving brook trout habitat thanks to this Embrace A Stream grant,” said Joe Ray, Rapidan Chapter President. “With this grant, we will engage volunteers from our local community to work on a river we all know and love as residents and anglers.”

Completed Fish Barrier Removal Project by Piedmont Environmental Council. Photo by Friends of the Rappahannock

Over the past several years, Friends of the Rappahannock, Piedmont Environmental Council (PEC), Trout Unlimited, and Ecosystem Services LLC have worked together to identify, prioritize, design, and restore fish passage barriers in the upper Rappahannock River watershed. These barriers prevent eastern brook trout from reaching protected habitat which is essential for spawning.

This project will build upon previous successful blockage removals in the area completed by PEC, United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF), and more.

This project will remove a fish blockage and restore access to 2.7 miles of protected upstream native brook trout spawning habitat, restore over an acre of degraded riparian habitat, and reduce nutrient and sediment pollution entering the Rapidan River and eventually the Chesapeake Bay. Friends of the Rappahannock plans to work with Trout Unlimited volunteers to plant riparian buffers along the stream to prevent future erosion and provide shade to reduce water temperatures.

Embrace A Stream is a matching grant program administered by Trout Unlimited that provides funds to local chapters and councils for coldwater fisheries conservation. Since its inception in 1975, the grant program has funded more than 1,000 individual projects for a total of $4.4 million in direct cash grants. Local chapters contributed an additional $13 million in cash and in-kind services to EAS funded projects, for a total investment of more than $17 million.

“This project has been three years in the making”, said Bryan Hofmann, FOR programs manager. “This support from our local Trout Unlimited chapter and Embrace A Stream is the final piece of funding needed to get this great project across the finish line. We are looking forward to construction and working with TU volunteers in the spring to plant the riparian buffer”.

Friends of the Rappahannock, has secured over $265,000.00 to support this project thanks to generous donors including the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s (NFWF) Chesapeake Bay Small Watershed Grant program, Virginia Environmental Endowment (VEE), Patagonia’s World Trout Initiative, Trout Unlimited, and Virginia’s Chesapeake Bay Restoration Fund.

To find out more about this project or how to get involved with our restoration team, please contact Bryan Hofmann at [email protected]