Potential Impacts of Natural Gas Development On Fish Communities in the Fayetteville Shale Play, Arkansas
Steve Filipek, J. Quinn, B. Wagner, T. Bly, M. Schroeder, B. Posey and S. O’Neal
Arkansas Game & Fish Commission, #2 Natural Resources Dr., Little Rock, AR 72205
Natural gas development in the Fayetteville Shale Play in north-central Arkansas has increased exploration and development of deep, shale strata over 50-fold in the past 7 years. The north-central streams are characterized by clear water and bedrock, cobble and gravel substrates and with biotic communities adapted to relatively low water column and benthic sediment. Natural gas development in the Fayetteville shale is characterized by 1.2-3.2 ha (3-8 ac) cleared well pads, 7,570-11,356 kL (2-3 Mgal) of water to fracture each well, a wide range of chemicals (acids, biocides, lubricants) added to the fracturing water, extensive access roads, gathering lines, and transmission pipelines. Hydraulic fracturing for natural gas development was approved on the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s Gulf Mountain Wildlife Management Area near Scotland, Arkansas through which flows the South Fork Little Red River. The South Fork is home to 2 endemic federally listed aquatic endangered species, the speckled pocketbook, Lampsilis streckeri, and the yellowcheek darter, Etheostoma moorei, and one proposed threatened mussel species, the rabbitsfoot, Quadrula cylindrica, all species sensitive to sedimentation. AGFC’s responsibility, to minimize negative impacts from this gas extraction, meant the contracted gas company would use advanced BMPs (Best Management Practices) for gas extraction and transmission. Selected sites on the main stem South Fork were physically typed (baseline data), water chemistry and discharge data collected following US Geological Survey (NAWQA) protocols (30+ parameters). The fish community was sampled using boat and backpack electrofishing equipment (2009-2011) and will continue to be monitored through at least 2013. Preliminary results are summarized in this presentation, which is one component of a larger comprehensive study of natural gas development on the WMA.