|By Bob Weaver|
One-hundred-nine West Virginia trout streams will lose their status if new stream protection rules are adopted.
Larry Orr, who heads Trout Unlimited, was one of nine people speaking against the changes proposed by the West Virginia EPA and supported by Gov. Joe Manchin and extraction industry lobbyists.
Protected trout streams have already been reduced to 108. Orr said the whittling will hurt the state's fishing and tourism industry.
The state's DEP has already whittled 444 waterways down to 309.
Manchin's proposal will reduced the 309 streams to 156, cutting the number in half.
Don Garvin with the WV Environmental Council says there is undue influence by coal and other industry extractors.
"These are streams that people in this state know and love and ought to be protected," Garvin said.
Covered is 564 miles of streams that run through 25 of the state's fifty-five counties.
The New River Gorge National River, a 70,000-acre park, is objecting to the change, along with other state preserves.
The reclassification of streams is tied to mountaintop coal removal, which continues to allow quick and cheap extraction of West Virginia coal, with a small labor force.