By Mark Taylor
Trout Unlimited and its volunteers aren’t content to simply talk about the importance of clean, cold water.
And that passion for action is what drives TU’s Eastern Shale Gas Monitoring Program.
The program engages, trains and supports citizen scientists who monitor their local streams to identify and limit the potential of shale gas development, including pipelines, on coldwater streams.
How important is this volunteer work? Consider that the Central Appalachian region has seen 50 percent of its native brook trout population disappear due to industrialization, acid rain, acid drainage and other man-made causes.
Since the program’s inception in 2010, more than 800 volunteers have been trained, resulting in the collection of more than 85,000 data points at 889 sites.
The program got its start in Pennsylvania, where extensive shale gas infrastructure is already in place. TU recently has expanded its efforts into Virginia and West Virginia where proposed natural gas pipelines have drawn a lot of attention over the past couple of years.
On proposed pipeline project would cross over 40 wild trout streams.
In Virginia, TU’s partners in the effort include Wild Virginia.
TU and West Virginia River Coalition are partners in the monitoring effort in the Mountain State. The two organizations recently teamed up with filmmaker Sam Dean to produce a short film that captures the passion of volunteers dedicated to Guarding our Waters.
Additional volunteer training opportunities will be announced soon.