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PFBC Adds Public Fishing Easements during Quarterly Meeting

HARRISBURG, Pa. – At its quarterly business meeting held here today, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) purchased three easements and one property along Erie County’s Elk Creek, further expanding the public fishing corridor along the popular steelhead stream.

“The steelhead fishery in Lake Erie and its tributaries is a popular destination for anglers and generates tremendous economic benefits to the region,” said PFBC Executive Director John Arway. “And our Fishing and Boating Access Strategy ranks this watershed as the top priority for access improvement statewide. With the addition of these easements today, we’re greatly increasing the opportunities for anglers to fish this stream.”

The access areas include:
Easements of 1,175 and 870 linear feet along Elk Creek in Fairview Township, Erie County. The easements are located off of Elk Valley Road downstream of Fairview Township’s Struchen Flats property and were acquired for $18,000 and $13,500 respectively. The addition of these two easements creates a 1-mile corridor of connected public access.

An easement of 410 linear feet along Elk Creek in McKean Township, Erie County, acquired for $5,500. The easement area is located off of Rick Road upstream of the PFBC’s Rick Road access.

Approximately 1,600 linear feet of frontage on Elk Creek on eight acres of land in McKean Township, Erie County. The PFBC purchased the land for $100,000. The property is located immediately west of Interstate 79 at the end of Skinner Road near McKean.

To date, the PFBC has acquired more than 20 miles of public fishing access in the Erie watershed through easements and land purchases under the Erie Access Improvement Program.

Also today, the Board approved an $80,000 grant to the Wildlands Conservancy as part of a $413,000 project to construct two boat launch facilities on the Lehigh River water trail and provide signage along the entire length of the trail. The sites are known as the Walnutport access in Walnutport, Northampton County, and the Treichler’s Bridge access in North Whitehall Township, Lehigh County.

The PFBC previously awarded the conservancy a $270,000 grant in 2012 for the project. Additional funding has been committed by the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Walnutport Borough and Lehigh County. The conservancy requested the additional $80,000 grant after bids to complete the project came in above the estimated costs. The PFBC grant is being provided from a 2009 settlement of natural resources damages stemming from the release of hazardous substances at the Palmerton Zinc Pile Superfund site in Carbon County.

In other Commission action today, the Board:
Adopted an updated trout management plan for 2016-17. Some of the key issues addressed in the plan include the prioritized sampling of unassessed waters; protection of Class A wild trout waters; stocked trout efficiency; management of waters through fingerling stocking; in-stream flow and habitat protection and improvement; public access to trout waters and the Lake Erie steelhead and brown trout stocking program The plan was developed based on input from a work group consisting of PFBC staff, anglers affiliated with a variety of sportsmen’s organizations, and independent anglers not affiliated with a sportsmen’s organization. The final plan is expected to be placed on the PFBC website within the next week.

Adopted a regulatory amendment which eliminates the requirement that inflatable boats must have at least two separate buoyancy chambers in order to be used on PFBC lakes. With the advent of high-quality, durable inflatable boats with less than two separate buoyancy chambers, such as inflatable standup paddleboards, the PFBC believes the current regulation is overly restrictive. The change will take effect upon publication in the PA Bulletin.

In Luzerne County, adopted a regulatory amendment which allows boats up to and including 20 feet in length to operate on Lily Lake. Currently, only boats 18 feet and shorter are permitted. The amendment will go into effect when published in the PA Bulletin.

In Cumberland and Lehigh counties, adopted a regulatory amendment which extends catch and release regulations on Opossum and Leaser lakes to all fish except trout. The PFBC began reestablishing the fisheries in 2013 after the dams at the lakes were rebuilt and the facilities were reopened to the public. However, recent assessments found that fish populations have not been significantly reestablished. The PFBC will monitor fish populations at the lakes while they develop and recommend appropriate regulations once the fisheries are rebuilt in order to continually provide high quality recreational angling opportunities. The amendment will go into effect on July 19.

In Potter and Tioga counties, approved the designation of the upper Kettle Creek basin as Catch and Release All-Tackle. The upper Kettle Creek basin includes 28.3 miles of streams and stretches from the headwaters downstream to the confluence with Long Run. It includes Long Run and all tributaries upstream to the headwaters. The change will go into effect upon publication in the PA Bulletin.

In Wyoming County, approved the designation of Lake Winola as a stocked trout water open to year-round fishing. The lake is not only stocked with trout, but also contains a number of warmwater fish species. The change will allow anglers to enjoy fishing during the traditionally closed period between March 1 and the opening day of trout season. The change will go into effect upon publication in the PA Bulletin.

Added 99 waters to the list of wild trout streams, revised the section limits of three waters, and removed one water. The list can be found on the PFBC website.

Added 37 stream sections to the list of Class A wild trout streams. The list can be found on the PFBC website.

Approved a proposal to continue stocking two streams in Clinton and Mifflin counties which are classified as Class A wild trout streams. The waters include Fishing Creek, Section 14, in Clinton County and Kishacoquillas Creek, Section 5, in Mifflin County. Both streams support high angler use for the stocked trout component of the fishery.
A complete copy of today’s agenda is available on the PFBC website.