(Image by Will Parson)

Bill Anderson, President of the Little Juniata River Association, catches a 15-inch wild brown trout in the Little Juniata River in Blair County, Pennsylvania, on May 19, 2015.

The Little Juniata River—often called the “Little J”—is a tributary of the Juniata River, which flows into the Susquehanna. It’s well-known to fly fishermen on the East Coast who hope to catch brown trout in its cool, clear waters. But its popularity is a relatively recent development: just a few decades ago, the Little J was what Anderson describes as “literally an open sewer.”

Years of pollution from nearby tanneries, a local paper mill and municipal sources degraded the health of the Little J until the brown trout were barely able to survive. But with the help of the Little Juniata River Association, the river has recently been declared by the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission as a wild Class A trout fishery. This means the waterway can support a large enough natural population of trout to sustain a sport fishery, with no stocking needed.

Various partners have helped the Little Juniata River Association in its work, in particular the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission. In 2011, a project between the agency and the nonprofit received more than $57,000 through the Chesapeake Bay Small Watershed Grants program, which is administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and primarily funded by the U.S. EPA Chesapeake Bay Program. Through the grant, the partners were able to plant forest buffers, restore eroded stream banks and remove invasive plants along the Little J.

Learn more about the Little Juniata River Association’s work to restore their waterway.

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