FALMOUTH — Volunteer anglers are being sought to help survey remote ponds in western and northern Maine for brook trout this season.

Survey information will be used by nonprofits Maine Audubon and Trout Unlimited, and the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. The data helps identify populations of brook trout eligible for conservation management practices, Michelle Smith, communications and marketing manager for Maine Audubon, said Tuesday in a Maine Audubon report.

“This is an exciting opportunity for people who enjoy fishing and exploring Maine’s outdoors to contribute to the conservation of native brook trout, a significant and unique resource for Maine,” Emily Bastian, the project’s coordinator at Maine Audubon, said.

This is the third year of the brook trout pond survey project. Last year, 66 anglers contributed nearly 1,200 volunteer hours to the project. Sixty-six ponds from the original list of 372 were surveyed, Smith said.

IFW biologists also conducted official surveys on 33 ponds that volunteers from 2011 identified as brook trout ponds, and confirmed brook trout presence in 26 of these ponds.

This year, volunteer anglers are needed to survey 307 ponds from south of Rangeley to Caribou in Aroostook County.

“The project’s success will depend on renewed participation from past volunteers and new participants,” Bastian said.

Maine is home to 97 percent of the intact wild brook trout lake and pond habitat in the eastern United States, the report states.

Brook trout require clean, cold water and pristine habitat to survive. The health of brook trout is a key indicator of a healthy ecosystem that also indicates the health of other species, including moose, deer, otters, kingfishers, herons and osprey.

The quality and abundance of Maine brook trout has declined in recent years due to the introduction of competing species, the report states.

Brook trout are important to Maine and the nation’s ecological and sporting heritage and are also a valuable recreational and economic state resource.

Hundreds of remote ponds in the state have never been surveyed by fisheries biologists.

“Identifying the lakes and ponds with native brook trout will greatly assist IFW in planning our conservation management strategies over the next several decades,” Merry Gallagher of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife said.

The project’s focus on remote lakes and ponds offers anglers a chance to explore new areas of the state.

“Volunteers should be enthusiastic about fishing for brook trout, be comfortable in remote settings and have a sense of adventure,” Jeff Reardon of Trout Unlimited said.

Surveys can be completed any time before Sept. 30. Project partners will provide maps, data sheets and instructions on how to survey each pond. To sign up to volunteer, contact Emily Bastian at (207) 781-6180 x207 or [email protected].

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