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New Funding to Help Restore Trout Streams

The leaping brook trout license plate has been available to motorists since 1998, and has provided funding for grassroots conservation efforts through the Massachusetts Environmental Trust (MET) for many years. Thanks to a new agreement, the plate now also provides funding for the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife) to target high-priority restoration efforts in trout streams.

Eastern brook trout, the only type of wild trout native to Massachusetts, are listed as a Species of Greatest Conservation Need in the Massachusetts State Wildlife Action Plan and require cold, clean water to thrive. Brook trout are an important recreational resource for anglers, and their presence is considered an indicator of high-quality coldwater habitat. Unfortunately, wild trout in Massachusetts are at risk from warming water temperatures, changes in stream flow, and disruptive human activities on the landscape, like dams and culverts that block their movements.

“The conservation projects funded through the brook trout license plate will complement and advance MassWildlife’s existing efforts to manage and restore coldwater habitats in Massachusetts,” said Todd Richards, MassWildlife’s Assistant Director of Fisheries. “As climate change and habitat degradation increasingly threaten habitats for wild trout and other coldwater species, it’s more important than ever to bring together partners to conserve these resources.”

Half of the proceeds will go directly to MassWildlife for the conservation and management of coldwater fishery resources, while the remaining funds are distributed through a grants program to other conservation partners that are engaged in management activities that benefit brook trout and their habitats. Funds will be directed to high-priority projects, like those developed to restore habitats and improve fish passage, improve knowledge of coldwater fisheries ecology, and address emerging issues such as climate change.

“The Massachusetts Environmental Trust is pleased to continue and refine its partnership with the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife on the Brook Trout license plate,” said R.J. Lyman, Chair of the Massachusetts Environmental Trust. “The Trust has always focused its funding on public and non-profit initiatives to protect threatened species and critical habitats, in marine, estuarine, and fresh water resource areas. More plates means more protection!”

The plate is available through the Registry of Motor Vehicles to all motorists who are registering a vehicle in the Commonwealth. For motorists who already have a vehicle registered and want this plate, they can visit Mass.gov/myRMV to order one. Like all specialty plates, the cost to the motorist is $40 every two years, in addition to the cost of a standard passenger plate every two years. MET also offers other specialty environmental plates including the striped bass plate, the right whale plate, and the Blackstone Valley plate.

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