|HARRISBURG, Pa. – At its 100th quarterly business meeting held today, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) approved several property transactions, finalized new regulations for Lake Erie, and awarded two grants for projects on the Lehigh and Susquehanna rivers.
Commissioners voted to purchase for $4,000 a public fishing access and conservation easement along Fishing Creek, a popular trout fishery located in the Upper Susquehanna-Lackawanna watershed. The easement area is located on property owned by the FishingCreek Sportsmen’s Association and consists of approximately 210 linear feet on one side of Fishing Creek along State Route 487 in Fishing Creek Township, Columbia County. The acquisition also includes an additional easement for a footpath and parking area to ensure access to the fishing easement area.
“Public fishing access to Fishing Creek has been limited,” said PFBC Executive Director John Arway, who noted that improving access to the area is a specific goal in Pennsylvania’s Fishing and Boating Access Strategy, a collaborative effort among PFBC and partner organizations that the agency is using to help guide its decision making. “Fishing Creek receives trout stockings in this area, so this acquisition will provide greater public access to these fishing opportunities.”
Commissioners also approved an exchange of property rights at Rose Valley Lake, a PFBC-owned lake in Gamble Township, Lycoming County. As part of the transaction, the PFBC will grant an easement that expands the width of an existing road access across PFBC property that provides access to an adjoining private property. In return, the PFBC will receive from the private property owner a one-acre tract adjacent to the PFBC’s property, a conservation easement which will limit development on the adjacent property and a one-time $15,000 payment. Because the PFBC’s property was originally purchased under a state funding program called the Project 70 Land Acquisition and Borrowing Act, the exchange must be approved by the General Assembly.
In addition to the regular business meeting, the PFBC hosted a free program on Monday evening to celebrate the Commonwealth’s fly-fishing heritage. Approximately 130 people turned out to meet the leaders of Pennsylvania's fly-fishing tradition and watch them demonstrate fly patterns made famous on Commonwealth waters.
During the program, Executive Director Arway formally recognized the Cumberland Valley TU Chapter for receiving the prestigious Gold Trout Award for 2011. The award is given annually to only one of about 400 national TU chapters in recognition for its work.
In other formal action today, Commissioners:
- Adopted new regulations establishing adaptive creel limits for walleye and yellow perch based on the annual quotas established by the Lake Erie Committee, which consists of fisheries managers from Pa., Ohio, N.Y., Michigan and Ontario, Canada. Under the new regulation, the PFBC will set daily creel limits for these species by April 15 each year.
- Adopted new regulations establishing a Lake Erie cast net permit for the harvest of emerald shiners and spottail shiners, which are popular baitfish. The $10 permit allows anglers to harvest a combined daily creel limit of 200 emerald shiners and spottail shiners.
- Adopted amendments to regulations which increase the number of commercial seine licenses from 10 to 40.
- Approved the publication of a notice of proposed rulemaking to apply catch and release regulations on American shad on the Lehigh River upstream of the first dam in Easton and its tributaries and on the Schuylkill River upstream from the I-95 Bridge and its tributaries.
- Approved a grant not to exceed $270,000 to the Wildlands Conservancy for water trail and access area development along the Lehigh River in Carbon, Northampton and Lehigh counties. The grant will be used to rebuild the boat launch and expand the parking area at the Walnutport access in Walnutport, Northampton County; to construct a parking area and a concrete boat launch a the Treichler’s Bridge access in North Whitehall Township, Lehigh County; and to install new signs along the Lehigh River Water Trail. Walnutport Borough, the conservancy and the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources also are providing funding to the project.
- Approved a grant of $75,000 for 2012 to the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay to assist with the operation of the west fish lift at the Conowingo Dam on the Susquehanna River.
- Approved a grant from the Erie Access Improvement Program not to exceed $210,000 to the Erie-Western Pennsylvania Port Authority for the construction of a fishing platform at Liberty Park on the shores of Lake Erie in the City of Erie. The total cost of the project is approximately $747,000. The PFBC previously provided grants of $168,500 to the authority. The balance is being funded by the authority ($150,000), and grants from the SONS of Lake Erie ($43,500), the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources ($100,000), and the Department of Environmental Protection and the Coastal Zone Management Program ($75,000).
- Entered into a non-surface use oil and gas cooperative agreement with Range Resources Appalachia, LLC, for the development of oil and natural gas at the Commission’s Dutch Fork Lake property in Donegal Township, Washington County. Range Resources has offered the Commission a non-surface use agreement that includes a five-year primary term, a $3,800 per acre up-front bonus payment of $2,236,680 and an initial royalty rate of 18%. The bonus payment and all royalties will be deposited into the Fish Fund where they will be used to fund efforts to revitalize and repair Commonwealth-owned high hazard dams managed by the Commission.
A complete copy of the meeting schedule and the full agenda for the meeting can be found on the Commission’s web site at www.fishandboat.com/minutes.htm.
Eric Levis, Press Secretary