Frack Finder West Virginia

Posted by Erin Lloyd on Thursday, January 21 2016


Evan Hansen

Hydraulic fracturing of the Marcellus Shale in West Virginia has boomed in recent years, and this development has had significant impacts on communities and ecosystems in the vicinity of well pads and other infrastructure. Collaborative data collection through citizen science has proven effective both for educating and engaging the public in data collection, and for generating unique data that can be applied in public and environmental health research. This project seeks to recruit citizen volunteers to assist in documenting impacts of shale gas development in West Virginia through aerial image analysis and mapping. The resulting data would be used to publish papers and reports to be shared with policy makers and the public.

Evan Hansen (1996 Fellow) seeks a second Switzer fellow to collaborate on a Network Innovation Grant. Evan is President of Downstream Strategies, and the grant would be provided to SkyTruth, a non-profit organization also based in West Virginia. SkyTruth has extensive experience in utilizing remote sensing and imagery analysis to understand habitat degradation and has successfully managed several crowd-sourced image analysis projects to measure impacts of hydraulic fracturing in the region. In addition, local groups will be engaged to aid in recruiting volunteers and in communicating about the results of this project.

Evan and Downstream Strategies will take the lead in working with SkyTruth to collect the data. We seek a second Switzer Fellow to take the lead in the use of the new data for an original analysis leading to the generation of an impactful report or paper. Potential focus areas for the second Fellow include:

1. an assessment of forest and habitat fragmentation due to development of oil and gas infrastructure and its impacts to ecosystem health,

2. an analysis of the proximity of drilling infrastructure to occupied structures—including homes, schools, and other public buildings—and the potential impacts to public health, or

3. another analysis in which the Fellow uses the new data collected in this project in an analysis within the Fellow’s area of expertise.

The ideal Switzer Fellow would have expertise in forest ecology (for the first potential focus area) or public health (for the second potential focus area). Other areas of expertise would be acceptable, so long as the Fellow would be able to directly use the data collected in this project for an original research project. We envision a part-time commitment for the duration of approximately six months; however, we are willing to be flexible on workload allocation and time commitments.

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