Name it. Claim it.

Satterlee Creek, an intermittent stream in Bradford County, Pa., is one that has been named and claimed by the community.


“Oh, that must be Fishing Creek.”

If you’re crossing a bridge somewhere in Pennsylvania, it’s a pretty safe answer if someone asks you, “What stream is that?”

I’ve never done a formal study, but I’ve been on many, many roads that take me over Fishing Creek – Columbia County, York County, Perry County, Clinton County, Sullivan County, to name just a few.

There’s Little Fishing Creek, Big Fishing Creek, the East Branch, the West Branch. There are Class A Fishing Creeks, Wild Trout Stream Fishing Creeks, and Wilderness Trout Water Fishing Creeks.

If you had the inclination (and the time) you could fish nothing but Fishing Creeks and keep yourself pretty busy.

But one thing I’ve noticed on these journeys over the streams – not, unfortunately, getting the chance to fish them – is that I’m guessing less and less on the name of the stream I’m crossing. That’s because more and more of them are named on a sign along the highway. And, yes, I’ve seen my share of Fishing Creeks.

I think it’s a great idea.

If we can put a name on it and give the stream an identity, I think more people are likely to care about it – and work to protect it.

As I travel the state as TU’s eastern sportsmen organizer, visiting sportsmen’s clubs and TU chapters, there are very few groups that don’t have a “home water” – something they get excited about and something they work to protect.

Those are named streams; they have an identity; people take ownership of “their stream.”

It’s easy to drive or walk by a trickle of water and not give it another thought – not realizing that it came from somewhere and is going somewhere as part of the precious water cycle that is not only home to trout, but provides our drinking water.

I’ve been through the discussions about “advertising streams” and “giving away secret fishing spots.” Some people are adamant about not telling anyone about their “honey holes,” and, to a point, I understand that.

But in the end, it’s not about the 15-inch brook trout that lives there now, but the little fish of future generations. That’s what will tell us if the water is clean enough to support fish – and, ultimately, people.

As part of TU’s work this year with the Unassessed Waters Initiative of the Pa. Fish and Boat Commission, I’ve told the story of unnamed tributary 64683, but it wasn’t until Dresser Run – the next stream in the downstream chain – was mentioned that ears perked up and heads began to nod. I’d put a “face” on UNT 64683. The recognition brought the realization that it was something that needed to be protected.

And so it is with the signs along the road. They won’t single-handedly protect the stream. They won’t pay for bank restoration. And, by some, they won’t even be noticed. But it gives the water a name. And once it’s named, it can be claimed as a place worth protecting.

Paula Piatt is TU's eastern sportsmen organizer, based in Sayre, Pa.


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