Trout Unlimited opposes gas drilling in the Monongahela National Forest
Marcellus Shale drilling would destroy native Eastern brook trout habitat
Arlington, VA (HNN) — In a unanimous vote, Trout Unlimited’s (TU) West Virginia Council voted in favor of a moratorium on natural gas leasing in the Monongahela National Forest.
The vote, which occurred at the council’s general membership meeting on February 20, was the first decision made by the state council regarding drilling in the Marcellus Shale formation, a region that is rich in natural gas resources and includes portions of West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, Maryland, Virginia and Ohio.
The hydro-fracturing process used to release gas from the Marcellus Shale formation requires up to 8 million gallons of water per well to extract the gas from deep underground. In addition, an undisclosed blend of chemicals is used in hydro-fracturing. Water withdrawal from streams and rivers, and particularly the treatment of the chemically-laden wastewater from drilling sites, has proven to be of significant concern in several areas in Pennsylvania where Marcellus drilling has occurred.
“TU’s West Virginia state council and its individual members should be commended for taking this critically important position regarding the protection of native brook trout populations on the Monongahela National Forest,” said Bryan Moore, TU’s Vice President for Volunteer Operations and Watersheds.
“The Monongahela is not only a treasured resource for the residents of the state and the mid-Atlantic region, but also contains 85% of West Virginia’s remaining brook trout populations,” Moore continued. “We simply cannot afford to use these sensitive public lands as an experimental testing ground for a drilling process which has resulted in irreparable resource damage in neighboring states.”
“TU is committed to working with the U.S. Forest Service to protect these last remaining brook trout, recognizing that once they are lost, they are lost forever. That is a risk TU is simply unwilling to take,” Moore said.
TU’s West Virginia council voted in favor of a moratorium on natural gas leasing in the national forest because of the potential for irreparable habitat destruction to rivers, streams and other fish and wildlife habitat. TU’s West Virginia council represents TU’s 1,500 members in the state. TU, as a national organization, has opposed drilling in the Monongahela and supports the West Virginia council position.
The Monongahela National Forest encompasses over 900,000 acres and is located in the Allegheny Mountains of eastern West Virginia.
Trout Unlimited is North America’s leading coldwater fisheries conservation organization, with more than 140,000 members dedicated to conserving, protecting, and restoring North America’s coldwater fisheries and their watersheds.