Reprinted from PA Environmental Digest.
Survey of Loylsock Creek in Lycoming County for the last two years Dr. Peter Petkasfrom Lycoming College Clean Water Institutediscover habitats of rare species eastern hellbender salamander It is heavily impacted by sediment plumes from natural gas pipeline crossings and shale gas drilling-related intake construction projects.
The Environmental Protection Agency and Friends of Sock recently reported that sediment pollution plumes from a natural gas pipeline stream traversal and intake construction site at Royalsock Creek at the Pennsylvania General Energy Royalsock/Shawnee site in Gamble Township, Lycoming County. I recorded what happened. Click here for details.
Pipeline river crossings are regulated by permits issued by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Intake sites to supply water to shale gas drilling operations for fracking will receive site approval from the Susquehanna River Basin Commission and construction permits from the DEP.
The natural gas companies also agreed with the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to use streams and riverbeds between high water marks for pipeline crossings and water intake points, as the submerged land is federally owned. You will need to sign a lease agreement for the submerged land. .
The Loyalsock Watershed has been classified by the DEP as an exceptional value stream whose water quality has not deteriorated and must be protected by law. Creek has also been called a “timeless treasure” by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, where he was named the 2018 Pennsylvania River of the Year Award.
Loyalsock Creek is also home to the Eastern Hellbenders, the state’s official amphibian and named “Pennsylvania Clean Water Ambassadors” after nearly three years of campaigning by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation Pennsylvania High School Leadership Council. Click here for details.
Many of the initiatives were concentrated in Royalsock Creek and Lycoming County. Because this is where the Eastern Hellbender was discovered.
As a result, the primary sponsors of the legislation making the designation both came from Lycoming County: Senator Jean Yeo (R-Lycoming) and former Congressman Garth Everett (R-Lycoming).
Dr. Peter Petkas Originally spotted salamanders at the Lycoming College Clean Water Institute in Williamsport, Lycoming County, he is a recognized hellbender expert.
The Eastern hellbender is the world giant of salamanders and can reach lengths of up to 29 inches.
In Pennsylvania, it is listed as an endangered species due to its declining population. Click here for detailsThey thrive only in clean water and live in certain types of rocky riverbed habitats. Click here for details.
The Eastern Hellbender was first discovered by Dr. Petkus in 2005 in the Royalsock Creek Basin in northern Pennsylvania. Click here for detailsIt has also been found in several locations in rivers and streams in western Pennsylvania. Click here for details.
A New Creek Survey Finds Bad News
Recently, Dr. Petkus decided to return to Royalsock Creek to resurvey the creek and see what the current Eastern Hellbender population is.
What he found was something he didn’t expect: ruined hellbender habitat.
“We decided to do a more thorough evaluation of the whole animal. [Loyalsock] Basin, all the way from Forksville to Montoursville,” Dr. Petkas said. “Most of the work involved scuba diving, as he was looking for deep-sea locations with shelter for these animals whose habitat may still exist.
“So we started last summer and repeated our research again this summer. And what we found was that there were several Hellbender pockets in some places. “It’s a deep-sea location, up to 30 feet, and there are other animals elsewhere, but not as much,” explained Dr Petokas.
“What’s interesting is that these deep-sea locations are generally the product of some kind of bedrock control, creating a situation where bedrock flowing water actually scoops up sediment, leaving large boulders at the bottom of the stream. It also exposes cracks in the bedrock that animals can occupy.
“What I discovered about a month ago was diving at one of the most downstream sites, just above Montoursville, when the creek was slammed as a result of gas pipeline construction last summer. We found many buried,” said Dr. Petkus.
The location mentioned by Dr. Petkus is that of the two trails crossing Royalsock Creek that were exposed during rains from Tropical Storm Lee in 2011 adjacent to Lycoming County Fairfield and Lyons Bar Road in Royalsock Township. It was a project to rebury the Williams Transco natural gas pipeline.
read more PA Environmental Digest Blog
https://www.northcentralpa.com/news/eastern-hellbender-habitats-at-risk-from-natural-gas-pollution/article_3f00924e-34fd-11ed-baa1-ff35cb7ecd13.html Habitat of Eastern Hellbenders endangered by natural gas pollution.news