Warmwater Streams Committee

of the Southern Division of the American Fisheries Society

State Stream Management Programs:

Summary of a mini-symposium of the Warmwater Streams Committee Summer Meeting, Auburn Alabama, 21-23 July 1998

Edited by Joseph R. Schiller, Austin Peay State University, Biology Department, Clarksville, TN 37044

In 1995, the Warmwater Streams Committee surveyed state agencies about their warmwater streams and rivers management programs to compare stream fishing activity and stream management program development in the Southeast. Results of this survey suggested that, in general, states with high angler use and abundant stream resources tended to have well-developed programs. However, not all states had well-developed management programs. If state agencies are to increase their emphases on stream management programs, how should they focus their efforts when allocating limited human and monetary efforts? The Committee sponsored a mini-symposium to explore present directions and efforts of stream management programs in various states. The objectives were to foster a greater understanding of stream management program development and to identify core themes of stream management programs that could be considered part of a model state stream management program.

Missouri's Stream Management Program

Rich Wehnes, Missouri Department of Conservation, P.O. Box 180, Jefferson City, MO 65102, (573) 751-4155, wehner@mail.conservation.state.mo.us

The current stream management activities of the Missouri Department of Conservation were spurred by legislation, The Natural Streams Act, passed in 1996. This legislation prompted the Fisheries Division of the Missouri Department of Conservation to take a new approach to stream management. The Division began emphasizing management to enhance stream, not fisheries, quality. The approach is multi-agency, and includes an important citizen's group component.

The process in a given watershed begins with the compilation of a Water Inventory and Assessment document. This document sets management direction and priorities, provides a framework for citizen involvement and provides a great reference document for evaluating progress in achieving management goals and priorities. The document also assures continuity in the management program within a watershed. The document contains information on geomorphology, land use, hydrology, biology, and fisheries in the watershed. The Water Inventory and Assessment document provides information useful for the implementation of stream technical work (various habitat restoration and enhancement techniques) and private lands programs (streambank stabilization, cattle exclusion and alternative watering, conservation easements).

The citizens component of the Missouri program has proved to be a valuable partner in providing advocacy as a political constituency and technical support (Stream Team citizen water quality monitoring groups). The Missouri Department of Conservation provides the Stream Team members with equipment and training and has found this to be a very cost-effective investment in terms of the quantity and quality of watershed information they receive in return.

Tennessee Water Quality Index Model

Chris O'Bara, Tennessee Technological University, Box 5033, Cookeville, TN 38504, (931) 372-3507, cobara@tntech.edu

The Water Research Center at Tennessee Technological University has developed a user- friendly model, the Water Quality Index Model (WQIM), to provide a tool to evaluate the environmental and economic effects of land use changes in a watershed. The model uses readily available information such as land use/land cover data from USGS, soils from USDA-NRCS, groundwater (USGS, TDEC when available), as input data. The model is Arcview-based and is constructed from several modules derived from other environmental computer models such as USDA's AGNPS (non-point source runoff), USGS's MODFLOW (groundwater flows), USEPA's HSPF (instream processes) among others. The model is menu driven, will run on a PC, and takes about 5-10 minutes to process. The model analysis distills the simulation of the environmental input into a single index, the Water Quality Index (WQI), allowing easy interpretation. The WQI model allows quick evaluation of the effects of land use changes on the water quality in a stream.

The WQI model is documented and described in more detail in the Water Research Center of Tennessee Technology University's web site. A case study is described wherein the city of Pulaski, TN was able to avoid a costly water treatment plant upgrade by making land use changes in the watershed. The URL for this site is http://www.tntech.edu/www/acad/wrc/projects/wqi/index.htm.

West Virginia's Stream Management Programs

Mike Hoeft, West Virginia Department of Natural Resources, Route 1, Box 484, Point Pleasant, WV 25550, (304) 675-0871, FunFisherman@Prodigy.Net

West Virginia's management program begins with an inventory of stream classification, for example, navigable, swimmable, fishable, trout, and high quality. The emphasis of the Department's management is habitat preservation with regard to preserving the stream classification status. The Department reviews four types of permits and evaluates the proposed activity's impact upon fisheries. Some examples of activities requiring permit review include but are not limited to coal mining, highway/bridge projects, pipelines, dredging, water withdrawals, and culverts. When reviewing a proposed habitat modification of a stream, the Department requires one of three types of mitigation for habitat degradation in the following priority: (1) replacement of in-kind habitat, (2) replacement with alternate habitat, or (3) monetary compensation. Other regulatory management responsibilities in which the Department participates are FERC reviews and fish kills. One of the most controversial permitting activities with which the WVDNR is currently involved in is the issue of mountain top removal for coal mining. In this mining technique, the coal extractor is allowed to fill in the valley between mountain tops with the resulting spoil. The small streams in these valleys are, obviously, destroyed and the coal company is required to provide habitat and/or monetary compensation as mitigation. At the instigation of the coal companies, the issue of the level of monetary or other habitat mitigation required in compensation for the loss of this stream habitat was reopened by the state legislature. Environmentalists, anglers, and other concerned citizens have entered into the debate, which is likely to drag on for some time.

Maintenance of Fisheries activities of the Department include fish surveys, conducted on a 5-year rotation, and the development of IBI's for West Virginia's streams. The Department of Natural Resources is involved with local citizen's watershed associations. Much of the work done by these water associations involves stream habitat improvements, and construction of fishing access and piers. Stream habitat improvements include such projects as bioengineering for streambank stabilization and cattle exclusion. The water associations are awarded grants (up to $5,000) to conduct these activities. The Department is involved in fishing tournaments, which they have found provides them with some valuable information about fish stocks. The Department's role in the Trophy Fish Angler Award Program provides some good information about fish stocks. The WVDNR also sets and enforces fishing regulations, including no harvest zones. The WVDNR also is conducting restoration projects for paddlefish and muskie and new introductions of species such as tiger muskie and saugeye.

Virginia's Stream Management Program: It's a tough job, but someone has to do it!

John R. Copeland, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, 2206 South Main Street, Suite C, Blacksburg, VA 24060, (540) 951-7929, jcopeland@dgif.satate.va.us

According to the 1991 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, an estimated 56% of Virginia's freshwater anglers fish our rivers and streams. In the current fiscal year, of the money to be spent under F111R, we will spend about 37% of the budget on stream and river management (this amount includes coldwater stream management). About 21% of the budget will be spent managing warmwater streams and rivers. These figures do not include the amounts spent on our Environmental Coordination and Review job under F111R nor do they include money being expended under our F109D project (our Public Fishing Enhancement and Development federal aid project), but they reflect direct spending on the bulk of the work our field biologists are doing.

Virginia has about 2,300 miles of coldwater streams and about 37, 000 miles of warmwater streams in the state. Of the warmwater stream miles, about 25,000 miles are considered fishable waters. Our fish fauna is quite diverse in relation to other states in the Southeast. With 204 species of fish currently known to reside in the state, we rank within the top five states in terms of species diversity. Of these 204 species, about 45 species are considered to be gamefish, and about 20 are either state or federal threatened and endangered species.

"What we are doing in terms of sampling our streams and rivers?" Each biologist in the state has substantial leeway in setting up surveys on an annual basis. Recently, our Fisheries Division gave me the responsibility for setting up a statewide survey program on headwater streams. We are trying to find out something about species assemblages in small streams where we either lack fisheries information or the data we have is out-dated. The Statewide Stream Survey Project, begun in 1997, is designed to survey lower-order streams (mainly second to fourth order). Objectives of the program are: (1) to develop a standardized approach all our biologists can use in sampling Virginia's streams; (2) to evaluate the sportfishing potential of these streams; (3) to develop a plan for monitoring long-term trends in fish communities in our streams; (4) to update species distribution data on our streams; and, (5) to fill in data gaps. All of this effort will compliment our Environmental Review and Coordination program by providing our biologists with updated information on our streams.

In addition to our sampling efforts, we have an active management program. Our biologists look for opportunities to improve access to streams and rivers and participate in efforts to educate groups on the importance of our streams and rivers. Biologists also support efforts of citizen water quality monitoring groups around the state. Our Division has an active program to provide passage for anadromous fish around coastal dams. We also participate in watershed management efforts in conjunction with other agencies like the Natural Resources Conservation Service. We also recently became more involved in riparian restoration efforts within the state.

Finally, the Department is involved in stocking muskie and walleye in suitable warmwater streams. We recently completed a study to help us adjust muskie stocking rates to the available habitat. A team of district biologists from across the state has been formed to look at smallmouth bass management in the state's major rivers. The purpose of this committee effort has been to work on standardizing our sampling protocols so we can compare data across the state, to look at smallmouth bass population characteristics in our major rivers, and to evaluate possible size limit changes to manage these populations on a river-specific basis. We are also in the process of looking at walleye stocks in the New River to see if they are a native strain and to evaluate our walleye stocking program in that system.

Georgia's Stream Management Program

John Biagi, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, 886 Adams Circle, Social Circle, GA 30025, (770) 918-6418, Blagfish@aol.com

The Georgia "Stream Survey Team" is only one year old. Part of the impetus for creating the Georgia Stream Team approach was the result of a study that showed that Index of Biotic Integrity (IBI) surveys of Georgia streams revealed 127 impaired streams that previous macroinvertebrate surveys had not detected as being impaired. Georgia is now monitoring streams for both fishes (IBI), and macroinvertebrates (modified EPA RBP). These surveys are being conducted on an ecoregion by ecoregion basis.

The Georgia Stream Team approach involves partnerships with other organizations such as the Southeastern Water Pollution Association Biologists, SWPA, and citizen's groups through an Adopt a Stream program. The Georgia stream management program is still very much in its organizational development and, therefore, does not have an extensive history or results to report at this time.

Stream Management in Tennessee

Frank Fiss, The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, P.O. Box 40747, Nashville, TN 37204, (615) 781-6519, ffiss@mail.state.tn.us

Tennessee, as is typical of other states in the southeast, has an abundance of warmwater stream resources; 19,000 miles of streams and 340 plus species of fish. Typical also of other states the region, recreational utilization of these streams, 150,000 anglers per year, is large in proportion to the dollar allocation to the management of stream fisheries resources: $400,000 out of a total of $5,000,000. The TWRA is divided into Fisheries, Environmental, Wildlife, Enforcement, and Information Divisions. The agency also is divided into four regions that loosely correspond to physiographic boundaries. Each region has 4-5 persons from fisheries: a fisheries manager, an assistant fisheries manager, and 1-2 technicians, and one biologist from environmental services that work on stream management.

The program objectives from 1987-1996 were to inventory species, qualitatively assess habitat, and also sample invertebrates. The problem for the Fisheries Division is that this approach provided a lot of information about fish, but not about fisheries. Program goals have been changed so that the priority is to quantify gamefish populations, inventory species, qualitatively assess habitat, and identify and acquire access.

The methods used to accomplish these objectives are catch per unit effort, CPUE, electrofishing in wadeable and floatable streams. The IBI of wadeable streams was determined. Some streams that are not wadeable or floatable are a problem to quantify. Age of all bass and rock bass collected go into the statewide stream bass project used to determine population parameters by ecoregion to be used as the basis to model new catch regulations. IBI surveys are labor intensive and do not provide quantitative data about gamefish that can be used for fisheries management. Habitat Assessment includes basic water quality data (temperature, dissolved oxygen, conductivity, and pH), flow (rapid crude estimate), pool-riffle ratio (visual estimate), substrate conditions (visual estimate of silt, sand, bedrock), and visual habitat forms.

Currently the stream data collected is used to answer typical stream specific fisheries questions. The information is also provided to the Environmental Services Division to be used in permit reviews. The data is entered into the statewide database. The eventual goal is to construct a point-based geographically referenced database containing all species accounts (fish and invertebrates), habitat, and water quality data. This data will be easily linked to typical GIS type data such as land use, elevation, and human population, to provide a comprehensive tool for management planning.


Each presenter in the mini-symposium provided their own unique perspective on stream management in their state that was no doubt influenced by the specific mandate of their agency/organization and their professional role in it. Our mini-symposium obviously did not provide a comprehensive survey of the entire Southeast and the many programs related to stream management there. The recurrence of some themes in more than one state is noteworthy enough to merit explicit mention in this summary. One recurring theme appears to be a move away from species based towards habitat or watershed based management. Another is the incorporation of citizen involvement ("Stream Teams", "Adopt a Stream" programs) in some meaningful way that not only builds a constituency, but often provides useful management information and on the ground (in the stream) man power for data collection and habitat remediation. Perhaps as important a recurring theme as any was the confirmation that in most, if not all the states, budget allocations for stream management are proportionately far smaller than the size and utilization of the resource.