Rhode Island is home to a stronghold population of native Eastern brook trout persisting in the cold, spring-fed waters of the Wood River and its tributaries. Part of the National Wild and Scenic River system and among the least developed ecosystems between New York and Boston, the Wood winds its way through the 14,000 acres of the state’s Arcadia recreational area. In small, coastal waters of the Ocean State, remnant populations of salter brook trout continue their migrations from river to sea.
Fish We're Protecting
Threats & Opportunities
Dozens of small dams throughout the Wood River watershed block brook trout from reaching critical habitat and significantly warm the water as the shallow ponds behind the dams absorb the hot rays of the summer sun. These barriers compound and magnify the warming temperatures caused by climate change. Two additional threats are stormwater runoff from suburban development and invasive species.
How We Work
We are advocating for improving fish passage at barriers, big and small. By removing dams and replacing failing culverts, we improve stream connectivity for native brook trout and salter trout along the coast. This work isn’t just about fish; it helps communities in Rhode Island avoid flood damage to their roads and towns.
We are stabilizing stream banks, moving or rebuilding trails that undermine stream banks, planting native trees along streams, and strategically adding conifer revetments and other wood habitat into stream channels. This work creates healthier ecosystems, improves water quality, and supports Rhode Island’s outdoor economy.
We are documenting salter brook trout streams and measuring population health so we can prioritize work on waters that support this unique life history of trout.
How You Can Help
Learn about how you can play a role in protecting and recovering Rhode Island’s wild and native trout.TAKE ACTION
Stay up to date about how we’re caring for and recovering Priority Waters in Rhode Island and across the Northeast.
The Wood-Pawcatuck watershed covers 300 square miles in Rhode Island and parts of Connecticut, benefiting from strong spring water influences bubbling up throughout the river system. From narrow tributaries flowing through hardwood forests to main-stem channels winding through open floodplain meadows, the Wood-Pawcatuck has a wide range of habitat types that support healthy native brook trout populations.