MDTU Conservation Projects

MDTU Establishes Upper Gunpowder Watershed Brook Trout Conservation Partnership

An iconic symbol of persistence and adaptability, the eastern brook trout represents the pristine wilderness that once covered North America prior to European settlement. Today it is estimated that less than 9% of the habitat that historically supported brook trout remains viable. Only three significant brook trout populations survive in Maryland—the largest and most intact is found in Garrett County in the far western region of the state. Smaller populations exist in northern Frederick County and northern Baltimore County. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has listed brook trout as a Species in Greatest Need of Conservation.

Last fall MDTU convened a meeting at the National Aquarium, inviting interested parties to explore the possibility of establishing a brook trout conservation effort in the eastern part of Maryland. Organizations represented included MDTU, DNR’s Inland Fisheries Management Division, and the National Aquarium. At the initial meeting, DNR’s Alan Heft and Matt Sell led the group in an analysis of multiple sub-watersheds in the Gunpowder basin, highlighting each area’s future potential to support thriving, interconnected brook trout habitat. Forest cover, land use practices, and the amount of impervious surface area are all key factors that impact a watershed’s ability to sustain healthy populations of brook trout. The Upper Gunpowder watershed, partially within the Prettyboy Reservoir watershed, was identified as the sub-watershed with the most potential for a successful conservation and possibly restoration effort.


With the target watershed identified, MDTU has begun outreach efforts to enlist additional partners. To date, key representatives of Carroll and Baltimore County governments, and the Prettyboy Watershed Association have signed on in concept to the MDTU-led effort. Additional partnerships are being actively explored. As the project grows, we envision the launch of a number of public education initiatives and private landowner outreach efforts. MDTU is coordinating the compilation of existing data on streams within the watershed. Previously documented data including stream temperature ranges, presence of fish barriers, forest cover assessment, land ownership details, fish population surveys, etc. are being compiled from available sources. DNR is leading the effort to assimilate and analyze this data to determine where gaps exist. DNR’s recommendations will guide future data collection and monitoring efforts. This growing body of baseline data will in turn inform strategic decisions about planning conservation and/or restoration efforts throughout the watershed moving forward.


Many efforts are underway to improve water quality in the greater Chesapeake Bay region; MDTU is well positioned to take advantage of this momentum, by harnessing increased public awareness and newly available resources to draw greater focus to the Upper Gunpowder watershed and its brook trout. Continued progress will require leadership from MDTU, cooperation of local and state government, investment of supportive partners, and participation of private landowners. The project will take decades to fully implement and will rely on the ongoing commitment of MDTU members and our broad coalition of partners. The time is now to mobilize to protect Maryland’s brook trout. Please join us.

For more information, please contact Scott C. Scarfone at


Upper Jones Falls Habitat Improvement Projects

In March 2016 volunteers from the Maryland Chapter of Trout Unlimited initiated a clean-up of the Upper Jones Falls watershed. Beginning at Stevenson Village and ending at Clark Farm, they collected over 2,000 pounds of debris.

Future plans in 2017 and 2018 are to continue clean-up all the way downstream to Meadowbrook Park. This will complete 2.1 miles of wild Brown Trout habitat.

For further information please contact:  Jim Tingey  847 287 5053