The purpose of the Unassessed Waters Initiative is to engage universities and other qualified non-profit organizations to survey previously unassessed cold water streams in Pennsylvania to determine if they are home to wild trout, including the eastern brook trout.
The presence of wild trout indicates exceptional water quality that benefits multiple priority species. The collected data will enable the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, if appropriate, to designate streams as supporting the natural reproduction of trout. That designation provides additional protection in the permitting process for proposed development activities in those watersheds.
Since 2012 the Unassessed Waters Initiative has awarded 51 grants, totaling $681,000. These investments leveraged $977,000 in grantee matching funds for a total conservation impact of over $1.6 million. In total, these grants have sampled 4,956 streams totaling 10,522 miles of stream. Eastern brook trout has been documented in approximately half of the sampled streams. Since 2012, 667 new streams totaling 1,741 miles have been added to the wild trout list.
Partners for the program include the Richard King Mellon Foundation and the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission.