“When I was a kid, folks from as far as North Carolina came here to trout fish on Huff Creek.”
So says Timmy Jeffrey who spearheads the fledgling Watershed Association along the once better-known fishery. It’s been decades since DNR has stocked its waters but just like for Buffalo Creek across the mountain to the north, it could be the very next prodigal waterway. That is, to make its return to the trout stock list just like Buffalo Creek did after a 34 year hiatus of going without.
If the organizing folks down that way have anything to do about it, the Wyoming and Logan County traversing stream will have its trout sooner rather than later. Huff Creek’s removal from the trout stock list was largely the result of unauthorized dredging activity by well-meaning citizens. Such dredging scours the streambed, removes riffle and pool complexes, trees and their undercut banks plus many other critical habitat features important to fish. What’s more, this activity oft has the very opposite effect that folks are trying to create; it usually aggravates flooding potential at the same time.
But times have changed. Littering or moving heavy equipment into the streambed without authorization by the Army Corps of Engineers can cause a person to face prosecution and stiff penalties. People are just flat out more aware of the right way of doing things these days. Ironically, it may take just such heavy equipment to get the stream restored back to its natural state.
However, this type work must be designed by stream restoration experts, permitted by the Army Corps and implemented. In the next couple of years, folks may just need to see what transpires at Buffalo Creek where many of the various mitigation permits to offset mining, highway or other stream impacts are soon slated to commence. Huff Creek will likely have the very same opportunities.
But in the meantime, the Watershed Group has already conducted major meetings, cleanup projects, private trout stockings and youth fishing events much the same way the Buffalo Creek group got its feet wet a few years back. And by wet, we do mean literally with a litter bag on the one hand and a fishing rod in the other.
Both of the listed County Commissions, DEP, DNR, the Army Corps and local businesses, coal companies, citizens and political contingents have joined hands in the effort. Similar watershed rumblings and desires for Clear Fork over near Oceana to the east and Spruce Fork just to the north are also encouraging. It sounds like the concept of stream improvement is catching on like wildfire.
Or could it just be a diagnosis of trout fever, and a highly contagious one at that.