SLATE RUN - The Chesapeake Bay Foundation believes that when it comes to protecting the bay's watershed, a picture is worth a thousand words.
The organization recently partnered with the International League of Conservation Photographers to send nine international conservation photographers into the bay's watershed for a Rapid Assessment Visual Expedition - or "RAVE."
The project's goal is to increase public awareness and garner support for the Chesapeake Clean Water Act, which the foundation hopes will protect and improve the bay and its watershed by promoting best management practices in stormwater management and agriculture.
Canadian conservation photographer Neil Ever Osborne photographs Frank Rohrer, who is fly fishing on Manor Run near Pine Creek. Osborne was in the area Thursday to create a visual record of the area on behalf of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.
Canadian photographer Neil Ever Osborne, a member of the league, spent Monday in one of the region's most pristine areas - the Pine Creek valley.
It still was dark when Osborne, accompanied by Frank Rohrer, a foundation stream buffer specialist, and Rohrer's wife Kathy, descended a steep footpath into a canyon where Manor Fork flowed into Slate Run, a tributary of Pine Creek.
Osborne said arriving to the shooting site early was important because the early morning offered some of the best lighting for nature photography.
As pre-sunrise light began to reveal the canyon, he attached his camera to a tripod and went to work, taking pictures of waterfalls, wild flowers and aquatic life. Frank Rohrer donned his waders and fly fishing reel and posed for photos, as well.
Osborne said the foundation partnered with the league in an effort to provide Congress with a realistic view of the watershed. That means providing a view of "the good, the bad and the ugly" in the watershed, he said.
Osborne said his assignment mostly focused on good aspects of the watershed.
"Part of the assignment I was given was to capture images that document how pristine and how wild it is," Osborne said. "The Chesapeake watershed certainly has its issues. We have photographers covering the ugly aspects of water quality."
Osborne said he has been a professional photographer for four years. He joined the International League of Conservation Photographers in 2009 because of his belief that photography can be a useful tool for conservation.
"At the heart of my work is an attempt to create tangible conservation action," he said.
According to Osborne, Monday was the sixth of seven days he planned to spend in the region.
His assignment also included documenting land disturbance associated with the Marcellus Shale, he said.
Osborne said among the things he did was visit a gas drilling site in Towanda and take underwater pictures of hellbenders, brook trout and small mouth bass in Loyalsock Creek.
He spent most of Monday morning cheerfully wading in the cool water of Slate Run, Manor Fork and other nearby streams.
Later that day, he planned to visit an acid mine stream restoration project on Babb Creek and the northern reaches of the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon.
Osborne estimated he has taken between 700 and 1,000 photographs a day. By the time his assignment is completed, he will have taken about 5,000 images, he said.
"Just with the underwater work I took more than 1,500 (photographs)," he said.
Foundation spokeswoman Kelly Donaldson said the foundation works to improve water quality in the bay and its watershed through educational outreach, promoting legislation and working with state and federal officials on water quality issues.
Included in the foundation's work is the proposed Chesapeake Clean Water Act. The act would provide funding to promote practices that would decrease pollution in the watershed caused by municipal stormwater runoff and agriculture, Donaldson said.
It was with that legislation in mind that the foundation partnered with the league to create a visual record of the watershed.
"(The foundation) saw the value of documenting the watershed to help enhance the message we are trying to spread," Donaldson said. "We're using photography as a means of bringing the entire watershed to Congress."
Donaldson said she would not want to be the person responsible for choosing the photographs displayed before Congress.
Only 30 photographs will be chosen, she said.
The photographs will be displayed on Capitol Hill for two weeks. There is a possibility it may become a traveling exhibit, Donaldson said.