Partnering to protect and enhance Pennsylvania’s best trout habitat on lands leased for shale drilling

By Katy Dunlap

Much of Pennsylvania’s shale gas boom has taken place around the streams that support the state’s best native and wild trout habitat.

Picture a place of unspoiled wilderness where small headwater streams send cold, clean water trickling down steep mountain terrain, where wildlife is abundant and humans are scarce, and where dense forests of hemlock and pine hide small native brook trout streams and create remote and challenging fishing and hunting experiences. That’s northcentral Pennsylvania and it has yet to see the full build-out of shale gas well pads and pipelines.

It is an area comprised largely of public lands, surrounded by thousands of acres of land held by private hunting and fishing clubs. Engaging land management agencies and these local sportsmen’s clubs, as well as the companies operating in these areas, has been an important part of TU’s work to make sure that Pennsylvania’s best fish and wildlife habitat and these special places are conserved for the next generation of hunters and anglers.

Yesterday marked a critical step in advancing that dialogue.

At a meeting hosted by Anadarko Petroleum and the Elbow Fish & Game Club, representatives from drilling companies, agencies, sportsmen conservation organizations and 20 hunting and fishing clubs—that collectively own more than 25,000 acres of land located adjacent to public lands—gathered to discuss ways to collaborate.

There was a lot of talk about seed mixes and successional plantings along areas disturbed by access roads and pipelines. Conservation easements and the need for forest management plans were discussed. TU offered the clubs opportunities to integrate native and wild trout habitat and stream protection and restoration into their management plans.

Throughout the day, I was reminded again and again of the passion that sportsmen have for protecting the hunting and fishing traditions that have been passed down from generation to generation, and their commitment to ensuring that their grandchildren will have the same opportunities to experience outstanding sporting experiences and healthy fish and wildlife populations. 

At the end of the day, one thing was abundantly clear:  it takes a village to protect trout. I left the meeting hopeful that, in the near future, we—all the stakeholders—will find concrete ways to work together on-the-ground to protect the best of Pennsylvania’s best trout streams.

Katy Dunlap is the eastern water project director for Trout Unlimited. Katy works out of a field office in the Finger Lakes region of NY.

Comments

 
said on Sunday, June 28th, 2015

People do not recreate, vacation, fish or hunt in industrial zones. That is what most people want to get away from.  

Anyone who actually believes hat an extreme industrial practice - like unconventional shale gas extraction, belongs anywhere near watersheds, streams, or can be done in a way that can "protect" our streams and aquatic life is either insane, a shill for the O&G industry, or a willfull idiot.

 

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