2013-03-07 / Front Page

Lake Drawdown Begins

Fishing regulations lifted on Meadow Grounds
By Chanin Rotz-Mountz

Water from Meadow Grounds Lake flows steadily Tuesday after the Fish & Boat Commission opened the lake's floodgate Monday morning. Water from Meadow Grounds Lake flows steadily Tuesday after the Fish & Boat Commission opened the lake's floodgate Monday morning. NEWS EDITOR

Drawdown of the 204-acre Meadow Grounds Lake has begun.

On Monday, March 4, officials from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) began the draining process by removing stop logs, PFBC press secretary Eric Levis said. With little else to report at this time on the drawdown that will leave the lake empty for an indefinite period of time, Levis did note that as the water level drops and the ice continues to melt, PFBC will begin preparing for a fish salvage. A precise date is not yet known for the salvage that will involve both netting and electro-fishing.

As a means of helping with the salvage of fish efforts, PFBC announced Tuesday morning it has temporarily lifted fishing regulations on the lake. As a result all seasons, sizes and creel limits have been eliminated in anticipation of the lake being fully drained within the next 15 to 20 weeks.

“We have chosen to temporarily lift the regulations in order to reduce the number of fish in the lake in anticipation of the fish salvage prior to a complete drawdown of the lake,” said Dave Mike, chief of PFBC Division of Fisheries Management. “We want anglers to fish the water and make good use of as many fish as they can.”

The temporary elimination of fishing regulations will remain in place until further notice is given by PFBC.

This latest announcement comes only one week after PFBC officially released information on the proposed drawdown due to deficiencies and escalating seepage problems with the Roaring Run dam. PFBC intends to identify the cause of the existing problems and devise a fix. However, without access to funding needed to make the repairs, the lake will remain empty indefinitely. It is estimated the project could require $4 million in funding.

In addition to the hit to tourism and fishing activities an empty lake could pose locally, birding enthusiasts as well as followers of migratory birds and waterfowl will likely have to go elsewhere to satisfy their recreational needs.

Pennsylvania Game Commission waterfowl biologist John Dunn told the “News” the lake is used quite a bit by different types of waterfowl including ducks and geese. In fact, it’s the lake as well as the marshy areas found there that attract these birds. The proposed “dewatering” will certainly have an impact and result in fewer waterfowl coming here, Dunn said.

Dunn noted in the event nothing is done on site, the lake over the long run will revert back to forestland. He added the potential exists to revert or restore the area to a wetland, allowing for certain plants and shrubs to again draw in certain species of birds.

With ongoing issues finally coming to a head at Meadow Grounds Lake, Andy Shiels, PFBC deputy director of operations, recently reminded the Fulton County commissioners that his agency needs to air on the side of caution to protect the public. He said at that time that not being able to fish or boat for a period of time pales in comparison to the loss of life or home. Reportedly at risk in a dam failure are more than 160 residents and around 65 homes.

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