If you drive the gravel roads zig-zagging the Downeast Lakes Community Forest, you’ll notice many small streams winding their way through the stands of pine and hemlock. While some of these brooks may not hold the allure of the larger waterways in the Downeast Lakes region, their ecological importance cannot be understated. Aside from providing crucial wildlife habitat to both aquatic and terrestrial flora and fauna, these streams allow for critical flood protection, and they carry sediments and nutrients to other rivers and lakes, and eventually to the ocean.
Gaining valuable knowledge of these streams is paramount to the overall health of the larger ecosystem. Monitoring for temperature, dissolved oxygen, pH, and other water quality indicators helps us better inform land management decisions. Whether it’s siting road improvements, informing forestry practices, creating recreational offerings, or improving wildlife habitat, gathering and analyzing stream data helps to improve management of the Community Forest as a whole.
DLLT is currently working with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife (IFW) and the Passamaquoddy Wildlife Department to identify streams in and around the Community Forest that contain habitat for important species such as Maine’s iconic brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis). DLLT Conservation Technicians recently joined IFW Fisheries Biologists, surveying streams and electrofishing various reaches to identify inhabiting species. Electrofishing is a safe method used to “stun” fish in river systems to catalog health and population size in a given body of water. An electric current temporarily stuns the fish, which are then netted, identified, and catalogued before they are safely returned to the water.
Later on in the summer, DLLT will be working with wildlife biologists from the Passamaquoddy Tribe to survey neighboring streams whose watersheds are shared by DLLT and The Passamaquoddy Tribe. Gathering a wide data set for these tiny, but important streams will ultimately benefit the wild populations of fish in the entire Downeast Lakes region. Some of these efforts are being funded through a generous grant from the Eastern Maine Conservation Initiative. To learn more about DLLT’s wildlife habitat efforts, please visit our wildlife page.