Eastern shale gas monitoring program to be featured in documentary

As Andy Quinn films, Natalie Mee of Wellsboro takes a water reading from a small stream near her home town. Mee is a high school senior, and among the youngest members of the eastern shale gas monitoring team.


By Mark Taylor


Trout Unlimited’s eastern shale gas monitoring program continues to grow, a sizeable cadre of volunteers regularly fanning out to sampling sites in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Virginia.


The program has attracted the attention of a documentary film crew, who recently spent several days afield with a handful of the program’s participants in and around Wellsboro, Pa., where the program’s roots run deep.


Field producer Anna Belle Peevey and cameraman Andy Quinn are part of the team behind the Crowd and the Cloud, a four-hour documentary that will focus on citizen science and which will air on PBS in 2017.


Peevey traveled to Pennsylvania from Brooklyn, while Quinn is currently based in Southern California.


The pair spent three long days with TU volunteers and staffers, working from an ambitious itinerary and schedule planned by eastern shale gas monitoring program coordinator Jake Lemon, who got a lot of help from stalwart monitoring volunteer cooridnator Barb St. John White.


“Despite rain, wind and high water, our volunteers represented TU extremely well,” Lemon said. “We were able to accomplish all of our scheduled filming goals.”


Lori Maloney spent more than 30 minutes in an interview with Peevey, who asked detailed questions showing she had done plenty of homework on TU’s eastern shale gas monitoring program.


“We really appreciated the opportunity for our chapter and Trout Unlimited to be involved in such an exciting project,” said Maloney said.

Bill Scott and Rhonda Keller discuss TU's shale gas monitoring program with cameraman Andy Quinn and field producer Anna Belle Peevey, who spent several days in the Wellsboro, Pa., area in late October gathering material for the upcoming Crowd and the Cloud documentary series to air on PBS.

Wellsboro was an appropriate base of operations. TU’s shale gas monitoring program grew out of the Pine Creek Waterdogs, a volunteer group formed in 2009 to address concerns about what impacts shale gas development might be having of Pennsylvania’s waters and woods.

Members of TU’s God’s Country and Tiadaghton chapters were part of the Waterdogs, and have continued to be deeply involved after TU and the Pennsylvania council of TU collectively worked together to launch the Coldwater Conservation Corps.

Volunteers discussed the program’s history with Peevey and Quinn, and demonstrated sampling protocols and methods.

Several participants donned waders and grabbed fly gear to fish rain-swollen Slate Run, hoping to connect with a native brook trout for Quinn’s benefit. Despite difficult conditions, Jere White managed to pull in a pretty 10-inch brookie, which he held at the water’s surface as Quinn filmed.

Art Antal (left) and Jere White wade ashore with a net full of leaves and aquatic creatures during a demonstration of benthic macroinvertabrate sampling methods.

Other volunteers who took time to participate included Bob Volkmar, Jere White, Art Antal, Bryn Hammarstrom, Lynne Graham, Bill Scott, Jim Horton, Rhonda Keller, Shaw Siglin, Dave Cahill, Natalie Mee and Jim Weaver.

Other citizen science programs that will be highlighted in the documentary include a program that monitors asthma inhaler use in Louisville, and one that features surfers who outfit their boards with special fins to monitor inshore coastal waters.



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