In the May 4 edition of the Altoona Mirror, an article titled "Stocking the streams" included some misleading and contradictory statements by several of the persons interviewed.
The article featured the program "Trout in the Classroom" promoted by the PA Fish and Boat Commission and Trout Unlimited chapters.
I am a member of such a chapter, Fort Bedford TU, which sponsors a TIC project in Bedford County. All TU members do not universally support this program of raising young trout in classroom aquaria for release to the wild. I am among those who are concerned that this protocol reinforces the view that trout are a feature of our local streams only because they are stocked, placed there after artificial propagation from parent stock adapted to no natural stream environment.
The statements by Jason Zorn ("trout reproduction doesn't happen here") of Laurel Hill Trout, Inc. in Bedford County reiterates this view, though it contradicts a statement by Jeff Verbonitz that the TIC trout are "leaving (it) to go out into the wild, where they can reproduce."
Contrary to Zorn's assertions, the watershed in which the Laurel Hill Trout facility is located contains very productive wild trout fisheries on several tributaries as well as the main stem of Bobs Creek.
Both our native brook trout and the introduced brown trout are confirmed by PAFBC and other agencies to be reproducing in these streams at levels to support a fishery.
There are several other watersheds in Bedford County that support wild trout reproduction, including the introduced rainbow trout. Again, contrary to the statements by Zorn, geology alone is not the prime factor in the differential ability of streams, East or West, to support trout reproduction.
What we do with that geology can affect our streams and coal mining here in PA as well as Western hard rock mining has destroyed many wild trout fisheries. Logging, development, and agriculture have all taken their toll, East and West.
PAFBC trout hatcheries on several streams around the Commonwealth have severely impaired their "host" streams' ability to support wild trout, most famously at the now-closed Big Spring facility near Newville in Cumberland County.
Concentrated nutrient loads, whether from sewers, cows, or trout hatcheries, can have detrimental effects on our local streams and downstream bodies of water.
Print more on horse racing
I am very pleased to see the Mirror's coverage of the Preakness Stakes, which is the second jewel of horse racing's Triple Crown.
With the current fan-base decline in the sport, any publicity from your paper that generates interest is welcomed. However, I would like comment on two issues:
First, the Kentucky Derby, which is the biggest draw for the sport, did not receive near as much print in the weeks prior to the race. There is so much attention given to preparing a horse for the once-in-a-lifetime Derby - including prep races, trainer issues and key injuries. I am sure most would-be fans and/or racing addicts like myself would like to read more horse-racing articles.
Secondly, this sport is a year-round venue. There is plenty of interesting action taking place with the sport's participants throughout the year. Very exciting and competitive races occur all the time.
I do understand that it would be impractical to cover all of these events, but a little more coverage on some of the bigger attractions may help generate more interest.
Two examples would be the Breeder's Cup races in late fall and some of the very prestigious events taking place at Saratoga Race Course in the summer.
Again, I am pleased and excited to see more horse racing news of late, and I hope this trend will continue.
Frank D. Cristillo Jr.
Tyrone Area High School is going to graduate a student-athlete who will receive four varsity letters - one for soccer, one for cross country, one for track and one for swimming.
He will have 16 varsity letters and still be in the top 10 percent of his class. His name is Dustin Elder, and he is my grandson.
Proud of him? You bet I am.