|SHIPPENSBURG, Pa. – At its quarterly business meeting held here today, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) approved property transactions in York, Erie and Columbia counties, authorized a natural gas agreement in Lycoming County, and adopted several changes to boating and fishing regulations.
In York County, Commissioners accepted a donated easement of approximately 500 feet along the Yellow Breeches Creek, a popular trout fishery located in the Lower Susquehanna-Swatara Watershed. The easement area is located along Gettysburg Pike in Carroll Township. It will be used for public fishing, boating and riparian and fishery management and will include the stream corridor and extend 35 feet back from the top of the bank.
“This watershed ranks second in priority in the Commission’s formal fishing and boating access plan,” said PFBC Executive Director John Arway. “Public fishing access to the Yellow Breeches is limited and we stock this general area. The easement will greatly improve public access to these great trout fishing opportunities.” The Fishing and Boating Access Strategy is a collaborative effort among PFBC and partner organizations that the agency is using to help guide its decision making.
In other property transactions, Commissioners authorized a grant of $209,300 to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy to assist with the purchase of approximately 84 acres in Girard Township, Erie County. The property includes 3,600 linear feet of access on Elk Creek and is adjacent to current public fishing easements. The project will include a parking area and a footpath to Elk Creek. Once the project is completed, the public fishing corridor will extend for about 2.7 miles. The conservancy has received additional funding from outside sources for the project.
Also, Commissioners authorized staff to renew a lease with Columbia County for the Briar Creek Lake property, a 197-acre recreational facility owned by the PFBC which includes Briar Creek Lake. The PFBC developed the property in 1970. The lake is a stocked trout water and is scheduled to receive five stockings this year. Boating is allowed with electric motors. The county is responsible for maintaining and supervising the property.
In Lycoming County, Commissioners authorized the agency to enter into a non-surface use oil and gas cooperative agreement with BigStar Energy for the development of natural gas at Rose Valley Lake, a PFBC-owned lake in Gamble Township. The five-year agreement includes an up-front bonus payment of $2.14 million and an 18.25 percent royalty rate. 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, unsafe dams managed by the Commission.
“The Commission is responsible for managing more than a dozen high-hazard, un-safe dams which need tens of millions of dollars in repairs,” said Executive Director Arway. “The Natural Gas and Water Access Program is one way of raising the funds to revitalize and repair these facilities so communities can continue to enjoy them.”
In other formal action today, Commissioners:
- Approved the publication of a notice of proposed rulemaking to establish rules for boaters engaged in the sport of wake surfing. Under the proposed rules, wake surfing would be prohibited behind motorboats propelled by an outboard motor, inboard/outboard motor or water jet. Also, individuals would be required to wear Type I, II, III or V life jacket or a water ski wetsuit approved by the U.S. Coast Guard. Boats engaged in wake surfing would be limited to a slow, no-wake speed when they are within 200 feet of the shore line; near swimmers, downed skiers; or near anchored, moored or drifting boats.
- Approved the publication of a notice of proposed rulemaking to amend regulations for boats which carry passengers for hire. The most significant proposed change would require the passenger capacity to be determined through U.S. Coast Guard approved stability testing. Currently, 18 tour vessels operate in the state. Other changes would require an increase in liability insurance; require operators and crew staff to maintain CPR and basic first aid certification; and require a standard drug test as part of the initial physical examination.
- Approved a grant of $405,377 to Fox Chapel Sea Ray, Inc. to build 16 dock spaces as part of a larger marina project on the Monongahela River on the south side of Pittsburgh. The project will provide recreational boaters access to the Southside Works, a retail and entertainment region. The PFBC worked with the company to develop and submit the grant application to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Boating Infrastructure Grant Program.
- Approved a plan to reestablish the fishery at Cumberland County’s Opossum Lake. Once the lake refills, anglers will be allowed to harvest trout under inland seasons, sizes and creel limits. Catch and release regulations will apply to all other species in order to establish the warmwater fishery.
- Added 30 stream sections to the state’s list of wild trout streams. The changes resulted from recent stream surveys undertaken as part of the PFBC’s Unassessed Waters Initiative, a collaborative effort among the agency, colleges and universities, and conservation groups to survey the Commonwealth’s unassessed waters.
- Added 18 stream sections to the list of Class A wild trout streams. Class A wild trout populations represent the best of the state’s naturally reproducing trout populations.
- Approved the publication of a notice of proposed rulemaking to add the Eastern mud turtle, round hickorynut mussel, pistolgrip mussel and rayed bean mussel to the Endangered Species list; add the Chesapeake logperch to the Threatened Species list; and remove the American brook lamprey from the Candidate Species list.
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. For more information about fishing and boating in Pennsylvania, please visit our website at www.fishandboat.com.