Fish biologists from the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, along with West Virginia University research scientists, are going to try a somewhat interesting experiment this month.
Using a grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Eastern Brook Trout Venture, the DNR and WVU personnel will attempt to repair some of the damage done by the logging and railroad operations in the early 1900s.
A Cass Engine (Shay Steam Locomotive No. 5) that was once used to haul timber from the West Virginia hillsides more than 100 years ago, will be used to haul materials to improve native brook trout habitat in the Oats Run Area.
On Monday, Shay No. 5 was scheduled to depart Cass and carry three tons of specially baffled culvert liners up Cheat Mountain to this tributary of Shavers Fork.
Oats Run is located near the remote logging town of Spruce. This Shavers Fork Area or Watershed, located on Cheat Mountain in Randolph and Pocahontas Counties, took a lot of damage during the West Virginia timbering era. Now the same steam locomotive is going to be used to help repair some of the damage it caused during this era.
Native brook trout which inhabited this area or streams were once fished by such well-known Americans like Thomas Edison, Harvey Firestone, and Henry Ford. During the timbering era of the 1900s, many brook trout streams were severely damaged from this operation.
West Virginia DNR Director Frank Jezioro says, "When you change the stream that way and take away the trees that help keep them cool, it's hard for trout to live in there year round."
The cost to install these specialized culverts in the next two or three weeks, depending on the weather, will be about $100,000.
The culvert pipes used in this experiment are specifically designed for allowing brook trout to easily swim up to the Upper Shavers Fork Tributary.
WVDNR fish and wildlife planner, Steve Brown, said that will actually create a series of pools in the pipe that makes it easier for fish to move to get upstream to spawn.
Since this is a work detail, passengers will not be permitted to ride on Shay No. 5 during this culvert installation. I would like to have a column about the outcome of this experiment maybe this time next year.
During October, the ruffed grouse and raccoon hunting season will come in on the 13th. The daily bag limit for grouse is four, with a possession limit of 16. I have said in past columns this area is not prime ruffed grouse country. I have only taken three grouse in all my years of hunting.
The first was taken with an old bolt-action, 20-gauge shotgun I purchased from Sears in 1958. I remember having to have my mother with me when I bought this shotgun with money I had saved up from my paper route. I was only 14 years old; and at that time, a minor could not purchase a gun.
The next two grouse were taken with my favorite .22 rimfire squirrel rifle. I just wonder if I could still do this today.
In the southern part of the state, the archery wild boar season will also come in on October 13. I doubt seriously if any sportsmen or women will be interested in hunting these critters. However, several people have told me these rascals are quite interesting to go after.