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West Virginia Wildlife
Shavers Fork Water Study
Patrick McMurtry A Hi-Tech Study On An Historic Stream

April 17, 2013
Reporter: Patrick McMurtry
Videographer: Brad Rice


The cold days of winter are over and the spring thaw is on giving scientists the chance they've been waiting on to try out the latest technology to help them figure out the best way to keep fish cool and comfortable in Upper Shavers Fork throughout the hot days of summer.

Paul Kinder, a research scientist with West Virginia University, explains what this research is all about. "Airborne thermal imaging is what we are looking at today to measure surface water temperature so we can determine where the groundwater influence is to the system, where are there seeps and springs, where is the contact with groundwater, those places in the summertime will be cool."

WVU has spent the last twenty years studying water temperatures here at Shavers Fork, but before, this was a real hit or miss technique which, while it gave them good data, didn't paint this kind of thermal picture of the river.

"They put out temperature loggers throughout the stream and they were getting a spot analysis and not a view of the distribution of temperature which is really what we're after." says Kinder.

With the snow melting, there's a lot of cold water runoff right now, so the relatively warm groundwater and springs seeping into the river are fairly easy to spot with the information from the cameras in the sky.
The dark blue is the colder water, but you can see blips where ground water is seeping up. In the summer, this will be reversed, the ground water will cool down the river.

"Temperature is a big factor here. We've seen summer temperatures recorded at Cheat Bridge at 90 degrees, which is lethal to fish, brook trout in particular, which is what we're targeting with the restoration undertaking. Understanding temperature, we can do all the restoration we want and if we have very warm water, what we have done and accomplished?" says Kinder.

Ultimately, Paul, the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources and other scientists hope to accomplish a lot, restoring a historic brook trout stream to its old grandeur.

LEARN MORE at the W. Va. DNR


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