Protecting the Brook Trout of Algonquin Park

This summer, three of my friends and I went on a canoe trip in Algonquin Park. On the water, we were constantly trolling a few lines rigged with spoons and were lucky to hook into some lake trout and perch along the way. While the fresh fish was a welcome supplement our freeze-dried dinners, there was another fascinating trout species that we had hoped to see but never did.


Photo: Jay Fleming, National Park Service

In my opinion, the brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) is arguably one of the most stunning freshwater fish species. Of Algonquin Park’s 1500 lakes, approximately 250 are home to brook trout populations [2, 3]. According to Mike Wilton of Algonquin Eco Watch, this makes it “one of the highest concentrations of brook trout breeding grounds in the world” [3].

Unfortunately, Algonquin remains the only park (provincial or federal) in Ontario where resource extraction is permitted, with 65% of the park currently open to commercial logging [4, 5]. The ramifications of logging could be detrimental to the ‘brookies’. They require areas with coarse gravel and a fast-flowing water for spawning [3, 5]. Logging can impact water flow on potential breeding sites and if the fish cannot find streams with a swift current to deposit their eggs, their reproductive success could be threatened [3, 6, 7]. Moreover, warming waters associated with climate change have a negative effect on their reproduction. Brook trout are a coldwater species and as the temperature of creeks and streams continue to rise there are less spawning areas available [3, 6].



Photo: Ryan Hodnett

The potential of logging paired with the effects of climate change spell an uncertain future for brook trout in Algonquin Park. While climate remains part of a larger issue, logging is a unique threat to park. The forestry management plan for Algonquin is set for renewal this year [1], therefore public opinion on the matter is necessary more than ever.


If you would like to make your voice heard for the sake of brook trout or any of the other captivating species that call Algonquin home, head to https://www.wildernesscommittee.org/ontario. There you can find more information on the topic and steps you can take to help protect this spectacular area.



 

References


[1] Crawley, M. (2020, December 22). Algonquin Park commercial logging plan up for renewal in 2021. Retrieved February 02, 2021, from https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/algonquin-park-logging-2021-1.5849770


[2] Fishing in Algonquin Park. (n.d.). Retrieved January 31, 2021, from

https://www.algonquinpark.on.ca/visit/recreational_activites/fishing-in-algonquin-

park.php#:~:text=Algonquin%20Park%20has%20over%201%2C500,Trout%20fishing%

20in%20the%20world!


[3] Heron, L. (2015, June 3). Algonquin Park Brook Trout Populations Threatened. Retrieved

January 31, 2021, from https://www.ontarioriversalliance.ca/algonquin-park-brook-trout-

populations-threatened/


[4] Krelove, K. (2021, January 12). Logging in Algonquin park is just one example how Ontario is failing to protect nature. Retrieved January 31, 2021, from

https://www.wildernesscommittee.org/news/logging-algonquin-park-just-one-example-

how-ontario-failing-protect-nature


[5] Quinn, N. W. (2004). The presettlement hardwood forests and wildlife of Algonquin

Provincial Park: a synthesis of historic evidence and recent research. The Forestry

Chronicle, 80(6), 705-717.


[6] Ridgway, M., Middel, T., & Bell, A. (2017). Aquatic ecology, history, and diversity of

Algonquin provincial park. Science and Research Information Report-Ontario Ministry

of Natural Resources and Forestry, (IR-10).


[7] Witzel, L. D., & Maccrimmon, H. R. (1983). Redd-site selection by brook trout and brown

trout in southwestern Ontario streams. Transactions of the American Fisheries

Society, 112(6), 760-771.

Photos


Fleming, J. (2020, June 27). Brook trout in water [Digital image]. Retrieved February 02, 2021, from https://www.nps.gov/yell/learn/nature/eastern-brook-trout.htm


Hodnett, R. (2019, September 24). Cayuga Lake - Algonquin Provincial Park [Digital image]. Retrieved February 02, 2021, from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Ryan_Hodnett/2019/September/Algonquin_Provincial_Park:_Day_5-6

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