Leaser Lake to begin refilling
|The dam at Leaser Lake in Lynn Township has undergone major upgrading after the lake was drained for repairs. Man made fish habitats dot the interior of the lake bed. (Douglas Kilpatrick, SPECIAL TO THE MORNING CALL / February 12, 2012)|
Lehigh Valley anglers and boaters received very welcome news late last week when the state Department of Environmental Protection gave the final approval to begin refilling Leaser Lake in northwestern Lehigh County.
According to the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, the refilling process will begin in mid-December, and the 117-acre lake will be stocked with trout in time for the regional opening day of trout season on Saturday, March 30, 2013.
“This is great news for all the anglers, boaters and outdoor enthusiasts who use the lake and have been waiting patiently for the project to be completed,” said PFBC Executive Director John Arway. “Rebuilding a dam is a big project which requires cooperation between state agencies, local officials and the public.”
Leaser Lake, originally constructed with a dam in 1971, has now been rebuilt three times because of leakage issues. This latest repair had the lake drawn down in 2009 for the repair project, which included the addition of man-made and natural fish habitat structures to help the new population of fish that will be stocked in the lake.
“The long-term plan is to stock the lake with fingerlings from various warm-water species, like bass, crappie, blue gills and yellow perch, and allow those fish to grow over the next several years into a sustainable fishery,” said Dave Miko, the chief of the PFBC Division of Fisheries Management.
“The short-term plan is to stock adult trout in the lake this spring so anglers can get back on the water and enjoy their sport. As long as the lake is about half-full, and anglers can safely access the water, we’ll stock trout for the opener
Refilling the lake, which sits on approximately 526 acres of public land owned by the state and Lehigh County, will take some time. Rainfall will help fill the lake, but levels will also be determined by PFBC engineers, who plan on raising the water level two feet per week while monitoring the dam for any problems until it is full.
The $3.5-million repair project included a $500,000 contribution from Lehigh County, while the Leaser LakeHeritage Foundation raised funds to help pay for the fish habitat structures in conjunction with PFBC work.
Also contributing to the price tag were grants for $750,000 from the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ Community Conservation Partnerships, $500,000 from DEP, and $300,000 form PFBC’s Growing Greener II program.
In addition to the lake itself, local Boy Scout troops and school districts helped formalize a trail system around the lake, which is on the south side of the Blue Mountain.
Pennsylvania Game Commission Executive Director Carl G. Roe will appear on Pennsylvania Cable Network’s live “PCN Call-In” program at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 15. Viewers of the hour-long program can call in questions to PCN toll-free at 1-877-726-5001.
PFBC asks for your help: The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission is extremely concerned about the politics being played with the federal budget in Congress.
If a federal budget is not passed before the end of the year, money due from the Sport Fish Restoration Program and the Boating Safety Trust Fund — collectively called the Trust Funds — would be withheld and the Trust Fund would incur a 7.6 percent cut, approximately $43 million to all state fish and wildlife agencies in 2013
“The projected financial impact of losing 7.6 percent of Pennsylvania’s portion of the Trust Funds in 2013 — $859,000 — means that we will have to reduce services to Pennsylvania anglers and boaters,” said Arway, the PFBC executive director.
“However, I believe the greater violation is the breach of trust between the anglers, boaters and businesses [that] pay the tax and the federal government which plans to withhold the funds from the states.”
Congress passed the Budget Control Act in 2011 that mandated automatic spending cuts to reduce the deficit, and unless a budget agreement is reached, those cuts will go into effect Jan. 2, 2013.
The money allocated to the Trust Funds comes directly from excise tax dollars levied on fishing tackle, equipment and motorboat fuels, not funds collected from income tax.
“The Trust Funds are the lifeblood of the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission’s day-to-day efforts to restore and manage fisheries and their habitats; open and maintain recreational access for all; and keep the public safe by providing boating safety education,” said PFBC Deputy for Administration Brian Barner.
“If budget sequestration takes effect, our agency will have to make tough decisions now and down the road. Potentially, we may have to reduce services like fish stocking, access area maintenance, boating education and safety, and other programs which Pennsylvania’s anglers and boaters care about deeply.”
The Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Act of 1985 provided that excise tax revenue going to the Trust Fund would be exempt from budget sequestrations, but a loophole exists because the Act did not specific that money from the Trust Funds was exempt from sequestration withholding.
The PFBC is asking concerned anglers, boaters and outdoors lovers to ask members of the U.S House of Representatives and U.S. Senators Bob Casey and Patrick Toomey to exempt the Sport Fish Restoration Program and Boating Safety Trust Fund and keep the trust with America’s sportsmen and women. To contact your U.S. Senator or Congressman, contact the U.S. Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121 or visithttp://www.house.gov or http://www.senate.gov.Gary BlockusGary Blockus