Protecting Resources High Priority
Inside the Outdoors, June 18, 2010

Recently, I asked a friend of mine to go to various parts along Loyalhanna Creek and collect water samples and bring them back to me so that I can do a pH water test from each location.

As you may remember, a good number of months ago, I did an article on understanding pH and in what range certain species can live. I decided to take it one step further by asking this gent to give me a hand since I have limited mobility.

So, he went to three areas, far apart in distance. That way, it could be determined whether there was an established high acidity, alkalinity or neutral zone.

It must be mentioned, since I don’t have a sophisticated testing unit or kit, the results I got roughly gave me an idea the condition of the water tested. Since the water was collected within a short amount of time, I believe there should be some consistency to the results. Here again, I have to make mention, I believe the results are close to being correct, but may be off a little.

The first place he visited was the Causeway at the former Sleepy Hollow Restaurant between Latrobe and Ligonier. According to the results, we figured the pH level was somewhere between 6.5 and 7.

His next stop was off the entrance way to the Creekside Path on Harrison Ave. in Latrobe. He scooped up his sample from the stream closest to proximity of the trail. The reading measured somewhere in the ballpark of 7 to 7.5, excellent levels in as much as 7 is neutral and this number is idea for all aquatic life to thrive.

Last, my fishing buddy visited the trestle down in Legion Keener Park. Dipping into the cool, mountain waters, he scooped out an adequate amount. And what did the test reveal? The quality of the water equaled that of the Creekside Path entrance area upstream a fair piece. A matter of fact, we were both amazed to learn that the water at the last two places were better than the first testing sight. By the way, if you didn’t see my column on “Understanding pH Levels,” you may log onto my website at: www.peevee73.com.

One person told me this week, he can’t catch a trout in the Loyalhanna Creek. Two other adamant anglers told me they were getting their limit nightly. “We had to work for our fish, but we kept twitching our bait until the trout bit. It didn’t matter how much distraction there was. We always got ‘em!”

So, our resources are fantastic. What we all must do is our part to protect them and not allow pollutants to enter the waters creating more acidic conditions and harming any wildlife that exists there now. One man can’t do it. It has to be a team effort.

Just recently, I got a press release from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission concerning the Marcellus shale gas drilling projects. They see the need to bring into being a severance tax so that the monies collected can go toward the preservation of fish, reptiles, amphibians, and other aquatic organisms and the habitats upon which they depend.

I agree with PFBC Executive Director John Arway when he indicated, “We understand the realities of today’s natural’s gas rush and recognize the importance of Marcellus gas to fueling our national energy needs; however, this cannot be at the expense of our natural resources, since we have lived the story and have seen what happened to our waters when Pennsylvania coal was extracted from our mountains almost a century ago. We cannot, in good conscience, let that happen again.”

Arway pointed out, “Many people do not realize that the Commission relies almost entirely on fishing license sales, boat registrations, and federal funding tied to fishing and boating to support everything we do, including trying to keep pace and stay ahead of the curve on the current and projected impacts of energy development to fishing, boating, and the resources we are entrusted to protect.”

So, it is Arway’s conclusion that if a severance tax is allocated against these companies drilling for gas, part of the income could be used in collaboration with other agencies to review and advise each organization to ensure aquatic resources are protected as well sites and associated infrastructure are built and maintained.

“I truly believe,” he commented, “that the public expects that service from us, and the resources under our jurisdiction depend upon it to survive."

- Paul J. Volkmann
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