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Wetland worries: Riverkeeper raises concerns

May 22, 2012

PIKE COUNTY, PA — After visiting Pike County wetlands in Milford Township slated for restoration related to the Tennessee Gas Pipeline’s (TGP) 300 Line Project, the Delaware Riverkeeper Network (DRN) has charged associated regulatory agencies with negligence in protecting amphibian life.

DRN collected video footage and photographs at the site located on PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) land on May 11. According to a press release issued by DRN, the purpose was to videotape juvenile amphibians to document for the public and the PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) the diverse juvenile and adult frog, toad and newt populations in the wetland.

On May 7, DRN sent a letter to TGP and other state and county agencies (see requesting a delay on restoration work due to the amphibian activities. According to Delaware Riverkeeper Maya van Rossum, that letter went unanswered, and on May 12, TGP crews pumped down the water level in the wetlands.

“One day after documenting the abundant life, Tennessee Gas quickly drained down the wetlands, apparently with the knowledge of state and local agencies,” wrote van Rossum. “The result was to wipe out some of the emerging life within.

Rather than order the delay, it seems that state and local officials either acquiesced or perhaps even supported the devastating actions.

“We believed we would have more time to influence the PADEP to delay the wetlands work or as a last resort, that we would have time to mobilize a corps of volunteers and concerned citizens to help relocate some of the amphibians to nearby wetlands out of the pipeline corridor,” added van Rossum.

According to TGP spokesperson Gretchen Krueger, TGP representatives met at the site on May 9 with Tim Balch, DCNR Assistant District Forester, and Bradley Elison, DCNR District Forester, to discuss the concerns of the Riverkeeper and restoration plans for the area. “During the meeting, it was determined by all in attendance that the restoration activities should continue as planned,” Krueger wrote in an email.

“TGP is following a restoration plan that was approved by the DCNR, DEP and other agencies prior to beginning activities at the site,” Krueger continued. “All activities conducted at this site have met all applicable permit conditions and have been consistent with the discussions we had with DCNR, DEP and the Pike County Conservation District (PCCD).”