Trout season opens

A flyfisherman waves to us. When we crossed over in the morning, ten fishers were wading in the stream. They were still there at noon, standing out of the frame on the right bank, drinking beer and finishing lunch.

We visited Marshlands on the first weekend of trout season.

It had just rained, and we passed numerous pickups left on the side of the road as trout enthusiasts ventured into the cold water.

Watrous Road was unusually quiet. Residents believe that the gas companies chose not to run trucks before noon so that the fishers wouldn’t get to see their full impact.

The valley and nearby towns of Gaines and Germania are surrounded by state forest. Tioga State Forest wraps around the south and east. State Gamelands 64 is to the north, and Susquehannock State Forest lies to the west. The streams run into Pine Creek.

Native brook trout had been driven out of the area in the past, but they were beginning to come back. The residents wonder if the drilling will kill them off or drive them out.

The wetlands in the valley are supposed to be protected. Some agency has posted signs at every rill and culvert along the road: waterbody; no refueling; keep moving, no parking; wetland boundary. Residents hope the signs show some agency is looking out for their delicate environment, but fear they are an attempt for Ultra to dodge liability by blaming individual truckers if something goes wrong. 

It’s definitely not enough.

“Our whole ecosystem in this valley has changed,” said Cindy Kalbach. The heavy morning dew from the wetlands is gone. Fawns used to be born in yards, but they haven’t even seen a deer or heard a coyote this year. There are fewer birds, no bears, and the silence of the spring peepers is unsettling. 

“Drilling is like a virus that slowly spreads out,” said Cindy, “and what they leave in their wake…”

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