Celebrating trout opener and the landowners who help protect forests for fish
By Nick Sanchez, Conservation Easement Stewardship Specialist
Trout season starts today, and what better time to recognize the support of our communities and the families who have worked with us to protect almost 12,000 acres of natural land in our eight-county service area. These lands are primarily comprised of family-owned forests under legal protection through conservation agreements, also known as conservation easements. Being land-dwellers ourselves, we often immediately associate forests with familiar wildlife: deer, various songbirds and even bears in the north, but these family forests also host and buffer miles and miles of important rivers and streams.
If you have ever held one in your hands, you know that trout are special, particularly our native brook trout. These beautiful speckled fish are indicators of the clean and cool waters of a healthy ecosystem. In West Michigan, healthy streams originate and flow through forests which provide filtration, shade and the fallen leaves, branches and logs that provide the complex habitat for fish and the insects they eat. Through the generous continued support of our community, we at the Land Conservancy are fortunate to work with over 120 families and our conservation partners to help care for our conservation easement forests, which provide us with clean air and water and healthy places for the swimmers, fliers and other wild things we all enjoy.
To meet modern threats like habitat loss, invasive species and climate change, conservation often requires action. We are proud to be working with Trout Unlimited and the Kent Conservation District to plant over 16,000 trees near rivers and streams in West Michigan to support species like our native brook trout in the coming year.
Whether you are an angler, hiker or just enjoy volunteering to steward our natural communities, the Trout Opener is an annual celebration of prosperity, health and the individual everyday acts of people who care to protect nature nearby.