MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- Three years after a massive fish kill, Dunkard Creek is rebounding.
Thousands of fish, salamanders and mussels died when golden algae bloomed in the Monongalia County stream that meanders along the West Virginia-Pennsylvania border in 2009. The Environmental Protection Agency said it was the first documented case of a Prymnesium Parvum, or golden algae bloom, in the Mid-Atlantic states.
A year later, another fish kill was thought to have been caused by a chemical entering the stream.
But Division of Natural Resources Fisheries biologist Frank Jernejcic said recent testing shows that 95 percent of species are back.
"I fished the stream in May, and probably caught a dozen smallmouth bass, in a three-mile stretch; they were mainly 12- to 16-inch fish [and] that was the best fishing I have had in 20, 25 years of fishing this stream. So that was a pleasant surprise,'' Jernejcic told West Virginia Public Broadcasting.
The exception is the creek's mussel population, but the agency is working to restore the species. The department is raising young mussels in a hatchery and then putting them in contact with a fish. The mussels attach to the fish's gills and the fish is stocked into the creek.
Dunkard Creek Watershed Association President Betty Wiley said it took the disaster to create an awareness of the creek's importance.
"Dunkard Creek is, like all streams, a very vulnerable part of our lives and our watershed,'' she said. "It just runs through and anybody can throw anything in it. ... People don't even realize how important it is until something horrible happens.''