U.S. Department of Agriculture: Forest Service -- National Agroforestry Center


Date of this Version



Loftus, Andrew J.; Flather, Curtis H. 2012. Fish and other aquatic resource trends in the United States: A technical document supporting the Forest Service 2010 RPA Assessment. Gen. Tech. Rep. RMRS-GTR-283. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. 81 p.


U.S. government work.


The Forest and Rangeland Renewable Resources Planning Act (RPA) of 1974 requires periodic assessments of the status and trends in the Nation’s renewable natural resources including fish and other aquatic species and their habitats. Data from a number of sources are used to document trends in habitat quality, populations, resource use, and patterns of imperilment among aquatic fauna. Freshwater habitat quality varied widely across the United States. Nationwide, more than half of monitored lakes were ranked in good condition, but the percentage ranged from a high of 91 percent in the upper Midwest to a low of 1 percent in the Northern Plains. Habitat conditions in monitored small streams indicated that 42 percent were found to be in poor condition. The Southern Appalachians, Southern Plains, and Northern Plains have 50 percent or more of their stream lengths in poor condition. The condition of small stream habitats was best in the Western mountains. Data availability continues to limit comprehensive evaluations of freshwater fish populations. Of the 253 marine fish stocks assessed in 2009, 38 percent were deemed to be overfished or subject to overfishing. Pacific salmon have declined throughout much of their range although stocks native to Alaska have fared better than those in the Pacific Northwest. Species associated with aquatic habitats have higher proportions of species considered to be at-risk of extinction than other species groups. At-risk aquatic species are concentrated in watersheds occurring in the southern Appalachians and the southeastern coastal plain. The number of anglers has declined since the early 1990s. Relationships between land use, water quality, and aquatic species conditions are explored in a series of case studies. The report provides implications of aquatic resource trends for management and planning.