State of the Trout State
Well we’re neck deep in it now. About 50 more days and the fate of trout water in WV may be sealed, at least for antidegradation purposes. The legislative circus is full bore and the antideg bill is front and center. The primary special interests affected by this bill (e.g., chamber of commerce and coal companies) are quietly making their deals in backrooms while the public fight is from those industries totally not affected by antidegradation, the non-point source guys with the farm bureau and the forestry industry. Tier 2.0 allows for 20% degradation from NPDES point source, Tier 2.5 allows for 10% and Tier 3.0 allows for no degradation. The only streams afforded Tier 3.0 are those in wilderness areas, which makes their listing moot to begin with. TU and other conservation groups are fighting for Tier 2.5 protection on 309 streams that the DEP has presented to the legislature. These 309 are only a portion of the 800-1000 wild, native and year round trout streams in WV. While that may seem staggering, these industrial interests (even those who won’t be affected at all by Tier 2.5) are lobbying to have the 309 dropped to just over 50. Basically, they want no streams on private land protected by Tier 2.5. The Farm Bureau and the WV Forestry Association have spread the lie that farmers will have to move their cattle, won’t be able to build barns, won’t be able to sneeze without getting a permit. The antidegradation bill requires that Best Management Practices be followed by non-point source pollution industries, regardless of the Tier level. These BMP’s are recommended by agricultural academia, soil conservation districts, etc. anyway! It’s about being a good neighbor and not screwing up the water quality.
So I would encourage every interested person out there to write letters to legislators and to local newspapers in WV. I’ll be submitting a letter to my hometown newspaper asap.
On a more positive front, Back The Brookie is going to have some great native brook trout projects in 2008/2009. Work will begin this week for the limestone work on a tributary of Anthony Creek in Greenbrier County. Brush will be cleared from an old forest service road, gravel will be put down in necessary areas (funded by BCTU) and then dump trucks will begin hauling limestone sand to neutralize the pH problems there. In addition, KVCTU is working with Meade-Westvaco on some tributaries of Big Laurel near Richwood. There’ll be some work for volunteers on that one. USFS Marlinton District will be doing some major work on tributaries of Williams River as soon as plans are approved as well. We also got word this week of some big time funding opportunities for native brook trout project(s) in WV.
In addition to the annual Elkhorn trash cleanup, it looks like we’ll be needing some volunteers to help with an Arbuckle Creek cleanup this spring as well. You may or may not know that I’ve sort of adopted Arbuckle Creek as my project stream. We will probably be discussing some of the environmental impact issues with local interests on this day as well. Arbuckle has great potential and if we can push for a cleaner creek the sky is the limit. The following are a couple of photos taken on Arbuckle last week. The first is the warning sign at the trailhead before you drop into the canyon, the second is the sewage outfall that has been screwing up the creek badly.