In the Headwaters of the Chattahoochee National Forest
The origin of stream restoration began in 1988 with the National Forest Service working to improve brook trout habitat in headwater streams of the Green Mountain National Forest.
Later, members of The Upper Chattahoochee Chapter and the Georgia Council of TU created the Back-the-Brookie program. Back-the-Brookie became Georgia's component of Trout Unlimited's Eastern Conservation Program. As a stakeholder in the Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture, Trout Unlimited joined federal and state agencies, regional and local governments, businesses, conservation organizations, academia and citizens from Maine to Georgia to protect, restore and enhance aquatic habitat throughout the range of the eastern brook trout. Georgia’s stakeholders are Georgia Trout Unlimited, Georgia DNR and USFS-Chattahoochee National Forest.
Over the past century, extensive logging decimated brook trout waters through erosion and sedimentation of habitat. Non-native trout were stocked to replace lost populations, but brook trout were unable to compete and were soon driven into higher elevation streams where they remain today. These streams are particularly vulnerable to a variety of threats: acidification from fossil fuel emissions, habitat damage from land-use patterns, and continued competition from non-native species.
The presence of brook trout is a generally accepted indicator of an ecologically healthy stream. Suitable trout habitat includes downed trees and large woody debris, which alter flow to gouge deep pools for protection against predators. They also distribute gravel for spawning sites. Well managed riparian areas are essential in maintaining shade that moderates water temperature and in providing for future large woody debris. Leaf fall and litter provide food energy for fish and stream insects.