TU's shale gas volunteers featured on PBS documentary

Over a couple of wet and chilly days in the fall of 2015, a cadre of Trout Unlimited volunteers were afield in Northcentral Pennsylvania with gear they use as part of TU’s Shale Gas Monitoring Program.

A cameraman and producer followed their every move, recording their words and work for a planned documentary.

Now, nearly a year-and-a-half later, that documentary is making its broadcast debut.

TU’s program is being featured on The Crowd and the Cloud, a four-part public television series that looks at the benefits — and challenges — of citizen science.

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Episode 2, which includes the segment on TU’s shale gas monitoring program, debuts on broadcast today (April 13) at 9 p.m. Eastern time. It rebroadcasts at 9 p.m. Pacific, as well as at later dates.

Viewers can find their local station by visiting The Crowd and the Cloud website and clicking on the Find a Station and Air Dates link.

The series episodes are also available online.

TU’s Shale Gas Monitoring Program began in 2010 in Pennsylvania, which was experiencing a boom in shale gas development, including extraction through hydraulic fracturing (often called fracking) and construction of related infrastructure. Volunteers monitor wild and native trout streams to protect them from potential contamination.

The program has expanded to include Virginia and West Virginia, and to include provisions for monitoring areas that could be impacted by planned pipeline construction.

Since then, TU and partners have trained more than 900 volunteers and those volunteers have collected more than 85,000 data points at nearly 900 different sampling sites.

The Central Appalachian region has lost nearly 50 percent of its native brook trout population due to factors including industrialization, acid rain, acid drainage and other man-made causes.

Natural gas-related development has the potential to impact the remaining strongholds of wild trout in the region.

By Mark Taylor. A native of rural southern Oregon, Mark Taylor has lived in Virginia since serving a stint as a ship-based naval officer in Norfolk. He joined the TU staff in 2014 after a 20-year run as a newspaper journalist, the final 16 as the outdoors editor of the Roanoke Times. A graduate of Northwestern University, he lives in Roanoke with his wife and, when they're home from college, his twin daughters.