‘Fishing’ for Alternatives to Mountaintop Mining in Southern West Virginia
- 460 Downloads
Mountaintop removal mining (MTR) is a major industry in southern West Virginia with many detrimental effects for small to mid-sized streams, and interest in alternative, sustainable industries is on the rise. As a first step in a larger effort to assess the value of sport fisheries in southern West Virginia, we estimate the potential abundances of two popular sport fishes—smallmouth bass (Micropterus dolomieu) and brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis)—in the Coal River Basin (CRB). A self-thinning model that incorporates net primary production and terrestrial insect subsidies is first used to predict potential densities of adult (age 1+) smallmouth bass and brook trout. Predicted densities (fish ha−1) are then multiplied by the surface area of the CRB stream network (ha) to estimate regional abundance. Median predicted abundances of bass and trout are 38 806 and 118 094 fish (total abundances with the CRB), respectively. However, when streams that intersect permitted MTR areas in the CRB are removed from the dataset, predicted abundances of bass and trout decrease by ~12–14 %. We conclude that significant potential exists in the CRB to capitalize on sport fisheries, but MTR may be undermining this potential.
KeywordsSmallmouth bass Brook trout Coal River Basin West Virginia Sport fisheries Regional fish abundance
The authors thank Craig Barber, John Van Sickle, and three anonymous reviewers for critical feedback on the manuscript. The trout and bass icons in Fig. 3 were obtained through the Integration and Application Network at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science. Daniel McGarvey was supported in part by an appointment to the Research Participation Program for the United States Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education through an interagency agreement between the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. This is VCU Rice Center Research Contribution No. 27. This manuscript is also a contribution to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Research and Development’s Ecosystem Services Research Program. It has been reviewed in accordance with the Agency’s peer and administrative review policies and approved for publication. Mention of trade names or commercial products does not constitute endorsement or recommendation for use.
- Baller, M., and L.J. Pantilat. 2007. Defenders of Appalachia: The campaign to eliminate mountaintop removal coal mining and the role of public justice. Environmental Law 37: 629–666.Google Scholar
- Boyle, K.J., B. Roach, and D.G. Waddington. 1998. 1996 net economic values for bass, trout, and walleye fishing, deer, elk and moose hunting, and wildlife watching: Addendum to the 1996 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation. United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Report 96-2, Washington, DC, 36 pp. Retrieved October 27, 2011, from http://wsfrprograms.fws.gov/Subpages/NationalSurvey/rpt_96-2.pdf.
- Carlander, K.D. 1969. Handbook of freshwater fishery biology, vol. 1. Ames: Iowa State University Press.Google Scholar
- Carlander, K.D. 1977. Handbook of freshwater fishery biology, vol. 2. Ames: Iowa State University Press.Google Scholar
- Clingerman, J.W. 2008. Statewide analysis of brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) population status and reach-scale conservation priorities in West Virginia watersheds. MS Thesis. Morgantown, WV: West Virginia University. Retrieved October 27, 2011, from http://wvuscholar.wvu.edu:8881/R/85IGI5MMHBQ3S9UBPD21F837FN2IXFK2N87S5QN3CA78A5J7CJ-00094?func=results-jump-full&set_entry=000007&set_number=000036&base=GEN01-WVU01.
- Cloe, W.W., and G.C. Garman. 1996. The energetic importance of terrestrial arthropod inputs to three warm-water streams. Freshwater Biology 36: 105–114.Google Scholar
- Dauwalter, D.C., D.K. Splinter, W.L. Fisher, and R.A. Marston. 2007. Geomorphology and stream habitat relationships with smallmouth bass (Micropterus dolomieu) abundance at multiple spatial scales in eastern Oklahoma. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 64: 1116–1129.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Energy Information Administration. 2010. Annual coal report 2008. United States Energy Information Administration, DOE/EIA-0584 (2008), Washington, DC, 77 pp. Retrieved October 27, 2011, from http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/coal/page/acr/acr.pdf.
- Goldsborough, E.L., and H.W. Clark. 1908. Fishes of West Virginia. United States Bureau of Fisheries Bulletin 27: 29–39. Retrieved October 27, 2011, from http://fishbull.noaa.gov/27-1/goldsborough.pdf.
- Grant, J.W.A. 1993. Self-thinning in stream-dwelling salmonids. Canadian Special Publication of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 118: 99–102.Google Scholar
- Hunter, C.J. 1991. Better trout habitat: A guide to stream restoration and management. Washington, DC: Island Press.Google Scholar
- McIlmoil, R., and E. Hansen. 2009. The decline of central Appalachian coal and the need for economic diversification. Downstream Strategies, Morgantown, WV, 42 pp. Retrieved October 27, 2011, from http://static.cnhi.zope.net/flashpromo/dailyindependent/flashpromo/news_pdfs/DownstreamStrategies-DeclineOfCentralAppalachianCoal.pdf.
- McIntosh, A. 1998. Mid-Atlantic budget angler: Fly-fishing for trout in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books.Google Scholar
- Raleigh, R.F. 1982. Habitat suitability index models: Brook trout. United States Department of Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, FWS/OBS-82/10.24, Fort Collins, Colorado, 42 pp. Retrieved October 27, 2011, from http://el.erdc.usace.army.mil/emrrp/emris/EMRIS_PDF/BrookTrout.pdf.
- Rosenberger, R.S., A.R. Collins, and J.B. Svetlik. 2005. Private provision of a public good: Willingness to pay for privately stocked trout. Society and Natural Resources 18: 75–87.Google Scholar
- Seneca, J.J., and R.K. Davis. 1976. A cross section analysis of state recreation activity. Journal of Leisure Research 8: 88–97.Google Scholar
- Southwick Associates. 2007. Sportfishing in America: An economic engine and conservation powerhouse. American Sportfishing Association, Alexandria, Virginia, 12 pp. Retrieved October 27, 2011, from http://www.asafishing.org/images/statistics/resources/SIA_2008.pdf.
- Stauffer Jr, J.R., J.M. Boltz, and L.R. White. 1995. The fishes of West Virginia. The Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia 146: 1–389.Google Scholar
- Stewart Burns, S.L. 2005. Bringing down the mountains: The impact of mountaintop removal surface coal mining on southern West Virginia communities, 1970–2004. PhD Thesis. Morgantown, WV: West Virginia University. Retrieved October 27, 2011, from https://eidr.wvu.edu/etd/documentdata.eTD?documentid=4047.
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 2011. The effects of mountaintop mines and valley fills on aquatic ecosystems of the Central Appalachian coalfields. Office of Research and Development, National Center for Environmental Analysis, EPA/600/R-09/138F, Washington, DC, 137 pp. Retrieved October 27, 2011, from http://cfpub.epa.gov/ncea/cfm/recordisplay.cfm?deid=225743.
- U.S. National Elevation Dataset. 2011. Retrieved February 19, 2011, from http://ned.usgs.gov/.
- U.S. National Hydrography Dataset. 2011. Retrieved February 11, 2011, from http://nhd.usgs.gov/.
- West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection. 1997. An ecological assessment of the Coal River Watershed. West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, Division of Water Resources, Report 05050009, Charleston, WV, 93 pp. Retrieved October 27, 2011, from http://www.dep.wv.gov/WWE/watershed/wqmonitoring/Pages/EcologicalAssessments.aspx.
- West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection. 2010. Selenium-induced developmental effects among fishes in select West Virginia waters. West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, Charleston, WV, 55 pp. Retrieved June 15, 2012, from http://www.dep.wv.gov/WWE/watershed/wqmonitoring/Documents/Selenium/Se%20Larvae%202010%20final.pdf.
- West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, Division of Mining and Reclamation. 2011. Retrieved September 27, 2011, from http://gis.dep.wv.gov/data/omr.html.
- West Virginia Department of Natural Resources. 2012. Fishing: 2012 regulations summary. West Virginia Department of Natural Resources, South Charleston, WV, 28 pp. Retrieved June 15, 2012, from www.wvdnr.gov/fishing/Fishing_regs.shtm.
- Wiley, J.B., R.D. Evaldi, J.H. Eychaner, and D.B. Chambers. 2001. Reconnaissance of stream geomorphology, low streamflow, and stream temperature in the mountaintop coal-mining region, southern West Virginia, 1999–2000. U.S. Geological Survey, Water-Resources Investigations Report 01-4092, Charleston, WV, 38 pp. Retrieved October 27, 2011, from http://pubs.usgs.gov/wri/wri014092/.