Brook trout re-introduction program continues at the Preserve, despite school closures

Preserve staff have been for working for several years with Trout Unlimited’s Trout-in-the-Classroom program and a consortium of Northern Virginia public school students and their teachers to restore a section of Catharpin Creek’s headwaters, that lies within the boundaries of the Bull Run Mountains Natural Area Preserve. Along with these restorations, we have been reintroducing the native brook trout and found consistent evidence that these trout are surging the summer season (the most difficult time of year for this cold water loving fish). This success has made us one of the closest populations of trout to Washington, D.C.

Unfortunately, just as another promising trout release season was upon us, the COVID-19 pandemic began shutting down school facilities. Realizing that students would not be able to release the trout (or properly care for them in the interim), all parties jumped into concerted action and we were able to coordinate a series of emergency releases.

Shout-out to the heroic effort of our teachers and students. Below are a series of photographs capturing Thomas Jefferson High School (TJHS) students releasing their trout just before school closures. Gro Preschool teachers came out after school closures for another emergency release to get their well-raised brookies out of their empty classrooms and into Catharpin. 

Thomas Jefferson HS students release their brook trout into Catharpin Creek at Release Site #4
Thomas Jefferson High School brook trout waiting to be released
Large and in-charge brook trout getting ready to be released
Gro Preschool teachers release their brook trout into Catharpin

TJHS students conducted their monthly stream monitoring survey after their trout release. This survey is an ongoing effort started by TJHS students and Dr. Strickler, providing excellent long-term stream data for the Preserve (and a great research project for the students).

Dr. Stickler identifies macro-invertebrates as his students continue stream monitoring
A mayfly larvae found during the student's macro-invertebrate survey

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