Trout Unlimited is featuring the Savage River watershed in a new report highlighting outstanding public fishing and hunting areas in the Central Appalachian region that are at risk from shale gas drilling and hydrofracking.
The organization’s 10 Special Places report focuses on areas that are rich in fish, game and natural beauty, and that have for generations provided abundant opportunities for hunters and anglers. It covers threats to the specific regions and offers recommendations for the best approaches sportsmen and women can use to protect these areas from potential risks.
The Savage River watershed is the second of the “10 Special Places” to be announced. Trout Unlimited will announce a new place weekly this fall, releasing the full report in December.
“Fishing in the Savage River watershed is a complete recreational experience,” said Nick Weber, past chair of the mid-Atlantic Council of Trout Unlimited. “From the gurgling streams with their bountiful brook trout, to the cool and picturesque grottos among the hemlocks, it is like experiencing the sanctity of a great cathedral. “When I’m out there it’s easy to pray that it will remain unspoiled.”
Located in western Maryland’s Garrett County, the Savage River watershed is home to the state’s premier wild brook trout fishery. The Upper Savage River and its headwaters include more than 120 miles of interconnected streams with the highest brook trout density in the state.
Farther down the watershed, below the Savage River Reservoir, the stream holds healthy populations of wild brown and rainbow trout, luring anglers from the mid-Atlantic region. More than half of the Savage River State Forest is located within the watershed, and that public land is extremely popular among hunters who visit to pursue game including white-tailed deer, black bear and wild turkey.
“Places like the Savage, with its wild character and the largest remaining brook trout habitat in the mid-Atlantic, are too important to lose,” said Katy Dunlap, eastern water project director for Trout Unlimited. “These are the places that sportsmen and women will stand together and speak up to protect.”
Trout Unlimited promotes responsible energy development and, in collaboration with others, seeks to ensure that all reasonable efforts are made to avoid or mitigate the impacts such development may have on important coldwater resources, such as the Savage River watershed.
If Maryland moves forward with natural gas extraction, Trout Unlimited is calling on the state to prohibit drilling activities throughout the Savage River watershed as well as on public forest lands, where the state owns the mineral rights. Such a prohibition will both protect rivers and forests critical for brook trout and other wildlife, and ensure sportsmen and women have access to high quality hunting and fishing areas, which are becoming increasingly scarce due to the development of private lands in Western Maryland.
The report and related content are available online at tu.org/special-places.
Katy Dunlap, Trout Unlimited Eastern Water Project Director, 607-742-3331
Mark Taylor, Trout Unlimited Eastern Communications Director, 540-353-3556
Image courtesy Trout Unlimited