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Story Publication logo February 18, 2021

Long Before COVID-19, Climate Change Was Already Hurting WNC's Trout

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Trout live in outdoor channels called raceways at the Setzer State Fish Hatchery in Pisgah National Forest, North Carolina. Image by Emma Johnson. United States, 2020.
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A 2020 climate change report released by the North Carolina Institute for Climate Studies lays out a...

Galen Kipar, owner of Asheville Fly Fishing Company, holds a trout on the Watauga River. Image by Emma Johnson. United States, 2021.
Galen Kipar, owner of Asheville Fly Fishing Company, holds a trout on the Watauga River. Image by Emma Johnson. United States, 2021.

BPR's Matt Bush speaks with Emma Johnson, the Climate Science Fellow at the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting...

Climate change has been wreaking havoc on Western North Carolina's famed trout industry.  Specifically, rising sustained temperatures are slowly eliminating the cold water in lakes trout need to thrive.  While climate change continues to impact trout, the COVID-19 pandemic is too.

Emma Johnson is the Climate Science Fellow at the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.  Her most recent reporting has focused on how rising temperatures due to climate change (a 2020 report from the North Carolina Institute for Climate Science says by 2060, Western North Carolina will likely see 10 to 20 more days a year where temperatures are above 95 degrees, and the annual hottest and coldest temperatures will increase by 3 to 5 degrees) will impact trout both at Sunburst Trout Farms in Haywood County, as well as at the tribal hatchery owned by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.

Johnson spoke with BPR's Matt Bush for the latest episode of The Porch, the monthly podcast produced by the BPR News team.  You can hear that show Friday February 19th at 9 a.m. and Saturday February 20th at 3 p.m. on BPR, as well as with the free BPR mobile app or through Apple or Google podcasts.  You can read more of Johnson's reporting on trout in Western North Carolina here and here.

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