Is Shale Development The Biggest Threat To Lake Erie?

Fracking concerns some, but Mike Durkalec sees phosphorous runoff and lampreys as bigger threats (pics: Brian Bull)
Fracking concerns some, but Mike Durkalec sees phosphorous runoff and lampreys as bigger threats (pics: Brian Bull)
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Trout Unlimited hopes its report serves as a call to action, for its 155,000 members as well as fish and wildlife agencies, and the shale industry.

The group fears that Utica Shale development will hurt the Lake Erie watershed, through water withdrawals from both the lake and the rivers that feed it, as well as the storage of wastewater in deep injection wells across the region.

Katy Dunlap is Trout Unlimited’s Eastern Water Project Director. She says her group isn’t anti-shale. They just want to highlight the many important and delicate waterways across the Central Appalachian region.

“You know, there are some places that are so special and isolated and unique, maybe shale gas development shouldn’t be happening there, but there are other places where it can happen as long as it’s limited in a way to protection of critical fish and wildlife habitat.”

But some local anglers see more prominent threats. Mike Durkalec is an aquatic biologist with Cleveland Metro Parks. He ticks off other issues worrying him and fellow fishermen along the Rocky River.

“Some of those would include runoff of phosphorous in particular from agricultural areas, it has caused harmful algae blooms," says Durkalec. "Non-native species is another one. One big one that affects this particular fishery is the sea lamprey, a non-native species of parasitic fish that does have an effect on the sport fish that these anglers are pursuing.”

Trout Unlimited says annually, an estimated 450,000 people fish the Ohio waters of Lake Erie.

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