Leave the Grand River alone

Jeffery FrischkornSure environmental groups are trying to make hay out of efforts to expand the practice of fracking within the Grand River watershed.

Still, such groups as the American Rivers are spot on in determining that it is this watershed that will reap what the natural gas exploration industry will sow.

Last month the environmental group American Rivers announced the country’s 10 most endangered rivers. Among them were not only the more well-known and fabled Potomac, Missouri, and Chattahoochee rivers but also Northeast Ohio’s Grand River.

American Rivers was joined in making the declaration along with such other notable conservation groups as the Ohio Environmental Council.

The Grand – as most of us who live beside it or and play in it call the stream – is both a state-designated scenic and wild river. Or at least large chunks of it are anyway.

A person can take a canoe or kayak float down the Grand and observe all sorts of wildlife from river otters to wild turkeys to American bald eagles.

It’s also considered one of the country’s premier steelhead fisheries. And if you have a hankering you can also secure some downright attractive smallmouth bass, walleye, and even native muskie fishing as well.

Go from the river’s mouth at Lake County’s Fairport Harbor and then upstream 98.5 miles through Ashtabula, Trumbull, and Geauga counties and you’ll find 75 kinds of fish, 18 types of reptiles, 34 different clam and mussel species (more than twice the number found within the larger Cuyahoga River watershed), and almost 50 different mammals.

Did I forget the 70 to 80 bird species? Please forgive me.

Yet the Grand is under attack by the oil and natural gas exploration industry. This cartel wants to use the highly controversial method of hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) to extract natural gas that is believed to rest within the earth’s bowels.

Sure the industry promises environmental safeguards.

With that being said, environmentalists are just as quick to note that the vast majority of scientific studies on the human health as well as environmental impacts of fracking are less than 14 months old.

Yes, there exists a strong need to help wean America away from foreign fossil fuel domination. No argument there.

And perhaps the drillers will exercise due caution when exploring for gas within the Grand River’s 705-square mile watershed.

But any thought that this industry is doing all of this for altruistic reasons or that it won’t creep up to the edge of the environmental protection law must be put to rest.

The Grand – MY Grand – is not a plaything nor a place for experimentation with emerging technologies that could cause irreparable harm to this invaluable resource.

Simply, plainly, clearly, just leave the Grand River alone.

Categories: Ohio – Jeffrey Frischkorn

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