Trout Unlimited is partnering with the Appalachian Forest Heritage Association and the West Virginia Rivers Coalition to fill an AmeriCorps position that would coordinate water quality monitoring efforts in West Virginia and Virginia. The project is designed to keep tabs on the impacts of shale gas development in the region.
Monitoring potential gas development impacts in coldwater trout streams is paramount for measuring the overall health of Appalachia’s water sources in West Virginia and Virginia. This is because many of these trout streams are the headwaters of the region’s major rivers, which supply millions of people with their drinking water supplies. Because everything flows downstream, the headwaters must be the first line of defense to prevent the overall degradation to Appalachia’s watersheds.
TU and its West Virginia and Virginia councils are uniquely poised to monitor these remote areas because TU members and other anglers spend countless hours fishing in them. To protect these headwaters, TU is building a cadre of trained volunteers to monitor the streams, collect baseline data, and alert TU, gas companies and the proper authorities to violations of state and federal laws, as well as provide information on the water quality of specific stream reaches.
The project will take place largely in the area surrounding the Monongahela National Forest, which contains over 90 percent of West Virginia’s native brook trout streams and approximately 600 miles of the state’s high-quality trout waters, and in the George Washington National Forest, which contains approximately 80 percent of Virginia’s public hunting lands and brook trout streams.
The coordinator will be tasked with:
- Recruiting volunteers to conduct monitoring.
- Training volunteers to conduct visual assessments of gas development impacts, and collect water temperature, conductivity, total dissolved solids, and water flow measurements.
- Organizing four to six water quality monitoring trainings for volunteers between September 2013 and August 2014.
- Conducting outreach to TU chapters, including educational presentations at chapter meetings.
- Providing technical and coordination support for volunteers.
- Ensuring that volunteers are actively monitoring and reporting data results by holding monthly phone calls.
- Facilitating use of reporting tools and providing continuous support for volunteers.
- Conducting water quality monitoring on a regular basis in the areas where there may be a gap in volunteer monitoring coverage.
To find out more about the project position, the AmeriCorps program, and for instructions on how to apply for the position, please visit the Appalachian Forest Heritage Association website. Please note: the application process for the TU position closes August 9, 2013.