Calling All Trout Anglers and Water Advocates

North Carolina is blessed with fertile farmland and exceptional trout waters, but preserving these invaluable resources for future generations necessitates responsible and sensible management. Unfortunately, in 2021, a local landowner cleared extensive forested acres in Surry County, resulting in severe water quality issues in Ramey Creek—a vital stronghold for the Southern Appalachian Brook Trout, North Carolina's official freshwater fish and the sole native trout species.

This devastating act nearly wiped out the local trout population, prompting a rare rescue mission by the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission to capture and relocate the trout, striving to preserve their genetic heritage.

The root of the problem lies in the agricultural exemption provided by the Sedimentation Pollution Control Act of North Carolina. This exemption shields agricultural operations from fundamental water quality safeguards, such as leaving small vegetative buffers along streams—a requirement imposed on nearly all other land-disturbing activities.

For facts on NC trout waters and photos of the impact of streamside agricultural pollution of trout streams, see our Trout Waters Factsheet.

Simple Solution:

To prevent future calamities while accommodating the needs of our farmers, an
amendment was offered and passed the NC Senate to amend the Sedimentation Pollution Control Act.
Act. The amendment ensures a 25-foot buffer along DEQ-designated trout streams for new agricultural operations, while retaining the remaining aspects of the agricultural exemption. This simple safeguard would mitigate farmland erosion and safeguard North Carolina's cherished trout fishing industry, which generated a substantial economic impact of $383 million and supported approximately 3,593 jobs in 2014.

It is imperative that we take action now to protect our treasured North Carolina trout streams. Reach out to your representatives without delay and urge them to support the amendment, again, as voted upon unanimously in the Senate already. Together, we can preserve the delicate balance between agriculture, our natural heritage, and thriving trout waters.

Act now to help protect our North Carolina trout streams!