Aquatic History of Dunkard Creek
In 1931 the Pennsylvania Department of Health surveyed Dunkard Creek and described it as a stream mildly polluted by acid mine drainage. It contained fishable populations of bluegills, yellow perch, catfish, and bass (Anon. 1931). In 1938 J.H. Banning found the stream to contain smallmouth bass, rock bass, crappies, bluegill and other sunfish, carp, bullheads, suckers, and minnows.
In 1941 a West Virginia Mine located along Dolls Run discharged acid mine drainage into Dolls Run, a tributary to Dunkard Creek. No legal action was taken against the mining company because "the pollution laws of Pennsylvania exempt mine drainage pollution" (French 1941). As a result a fish kill was suffered on Dolls Run. The Shannopin Mine located near Bobtown, PA had some adverse affects on Dunkard Creek downstream of Mount Morris, PA during low flow periods. A chemical sampling in 1951 showed Dunkard Creek at Mount Morris had a pH of 7.5 and an alkalinity of 15 mg/l, but a pH of 2.9 and a total acidity of 282 mg/l at a point 12.8 km (8.0 miles) downstream from Mount Morris.
Robbins (1953) found Dunkard Creek suitable for stocking with warmwater fish from Mount Morris downstream to the SR 2021 bridge, a distance of 8.0km (5.0 miles). Sines (1956) reported good water quality at Mount Morris and at a point below Davistown and noted its high buffering capacity at these two points. From 1958 to 1961, Dunkard Creek was stocked with smallmouth bass, white crappies, bullheads, yellow perch, white bass, and carp. In 1971 smallmouth bass and brown bullheads were stocked (Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) stocking records). In July 1972 Dunkard Creek was surveyed to determine the feasibility of stocking muskellunge in the stretch between the T-339 ford and the SR 2021 bridge (Hesser et al. 1972a). The stream was stocked with tiger muskellunge fingerlings in 1973, 1974, and 1977, and purebred muskellunge fingerlings in 1975. According to The PA Fish and Boat Commission, 150 tiger muskellunge fingerlings were stocked in 1982, 400 fingerlings in 1989, and 250 fingerlings each in 1991 and 1993. The muskellunge stocking program was discontinued in 1995.
A second survey was done in August 1972 to determine the effects of a pollution from the Shannopin Mine on Glade Run and Dunkard Creek (Hesser et al. 1972b). A heavy precipitate covering the stream bottom was noted at the confluence with Glade Run and downstream along the left bank for approximately 300 feet. The stream bottom of Glade Run downstream from the discharge, besides being stained, contained masses of algae characteristic of mine acid drainage discharges. The survey determined that acid mine drainage from Glade Run substantially reduced the invertebrate populations immediately downstream. Because of the high buffering capacity of this stream, the invertebrate population approximately 3 miles downstream at the L.R. 30074 bridge appeared to have been unaffected by the discharge.
A survey done in June of 1977 reported that Dunkard Creek appears to sustain good water quality for most of its length (Proch 1978). Proch determined that mine drainage accounted for the loss of water quality in the lower reaches of the creek. Two point sources accounted for only a small portion. Most resulted from barrier breeching along the valley wall starting at Bobtown and continuing for almost a kilometer. Proch found tremendously high levels of freshwater mussels and highly colored Centrarchids. The mussels comprised of several species ranging from the small fingernail clam Pisidium to the large species of the genus Elliptio. The density of mussels peaked near Blacksville, West Virginia, where mounds of empty shells were everywhere, the remains of Racoon Bacchanalias. The Centrarchids were the commonest and principle gamefish in the basin. Their size was remarkable for stream bred populations. Proch reported the angling potential was apparently under utilized.
Annual sampling for smallmouth bass took place from 1984 through 1992 (PFBC data base). This stream has maintained a viable smallmouth bass and rock bass fishery during these years. Occasional catches of and recent sampling efforts show that sauger, channel catfish and tiger muskellunge also are available (Lorson, Shervinskie, and Eisel 1995). Sauger and channel catfish have moved upstream out of the Monongahela River whereas the tiger muskies have been stocked as fingerlings. According to the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, Sauger have been migrating upstream to the second dam downstream of the Accurate Brass Plant located in Brave, PA each of the last three spawning seasons (1994-95-96).
The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) conducted a Priority Water Body Survey in 1984 (Rider 1985). The report investigated the Chapter 93 Water Use Designation of Warm Water Fishes. The survey data indicated this use was attained from Mount Morris to Taylortown and could be attained from Taylortown to the mouth in the absence of acid mine drainage. The recommendation was to retain the Warm Water Fishes Use Designation (Lorson, Shervinskie and Eisel 1995).
In 1995 the PFBC designated a 4.2 mile stretch from the mouth of Shannon Run at the T-339 ford downstream to the SR 2009 bridge as a smallmouth catch and release area. Smallmouth bass sampling took place from 1995 through 1998 in this area. An angler opinion survey took place during 1998. Data from this study will be evaluated in 1999 and regulation changes, if necessary will occur in 2000. The PFBC will be publishing a report in the year 2000 concerning the findings of this study.
In September of 1998, The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission reported a large fish kill at the Taylortown bridge. Approximately 1,752 fish were found dead on a 2 mile stretch starting at the Taylortown bridge. It is suspected that a large acid mine drainage discharge located above this area is to blame.