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Cooks Run Watershed Recovering After 43 Years Of Work In Clinton County
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By Michael J. Klimkos

On May 19, 2021 at 12:01 p.m. the Camp Run Fly Ash & Brook Trout Benevolent Society met on the Rock Run Bridge on Cooks Run Road East in Keating Township, Clinton County.. The group was there to celebrate the brook trout in the stream and all the people who helped make it so.

This has been a long time coming. Then the CRFA & BTBS – having met its goal of restoring brook trout to Cooks Run went out of existence.

It was immediately replaced by the Cooks Run Brook Trout Benevolent Society – an organization without any dues, officers, official meetings or other formal structure. Like the preceding organization it has one goal of getting trout to the mouth of Cooks Run.

On May 30, 1975, permit 4674SM21 was issued to Fran Contracting of Wallaceton, PA to mine on the ridge between Camp Run and Rock Run.

Fran Contracting was owned and operated by Fran Hamilton as a subsidiary to Walker Coal, at the time one of the largest surface mine operators in Pennsylvania.

Even though it was not permitted as such Fran Contracting and Avery Coal Company – who had a coal preparation plant at the bottom of the mountain – used the site as a coal refuse disposal site.

The pollution of Rock, Camp and Cooks Runs at that time was the largest loss of stream miles due to surface mining ever in Pennsylvania.

Thousands of miles of other streams – the lower end of Cooks Run and Crowley Run in fact – had been polluted by AMD, but this was largely due to underground mining; most of it before the advent of modern laws.

Six miles of trout streams that supported wild fish were lost because of the Fran Contracting Site.

On May 19, 1978, Harry “Snakey” Snodgrass and Mike Klimkos held the first meeting to discuss what could be done to address the pollution.

It was Mike’s home water and Snakey was the president of the Western Clinton County Sportsmen’s Association.

It wasn’t long after that meeting that the Pennsylvania Fish Commission Northcentral Regional Law Enforcement Supervisor, Paul Swanson walked into the DER office with a young biologist named John Arway and threatened to sue the department as the discharge was on state-owned land and the landowner is ultimately responsible under the Clean Streams Law.

The fight was on!

Through the years there were countless meetings, rounds of water sample and overburden sample collections, plans put forward and then acted on.

Almost every plan for dealing with acid mine drainage (AMD) that was developed was tried in the watershed. There was lime slurry addition, conventional treatment with soda ash, fluidized bed fly ash grouting, reduction phase bioreactors, in-situ waste lime placement, stream channel diversion, and remining and mixing the backfill with huge amounts of alkaline material.

Along the way the CRFA&BTBS came about by the men who collected the samples, did the mapping, shoveled the fly ash and did the work that needed done.

Many of the techniques and technology were new and untested. A lot was learned from the work done by the group.

While the stream has wild brook trout, it is probably not a fishery capable of sustained prosecution by anglers.

The biomass to support fish will take time to recover though there are signs that significant growth of benthic macroinvertebrates is occurring.

(Photos: Camp Run Fly Ash & Brook Trout Benevolent Society members raise a toast to the brook trout and all the people who made it happen. (l-r) Mike Klimkos, John Arway, Steve Kepler, Steve Fasanik, Rich Beam, Dean Baker, Bob Agnew, Butch Davey. Not in attendance Joe Schueck and Mike Dimatteo; Brook trout caught below Rock Run on April 18, 2021.)

[Posted: May 21, 2021]


5/24/2021

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