Western Erie County / DWCO Randy Leighton|
Crooked Creek Improvement - As it should be:
FishPro Consulting Engineers & Scientists, the Springfield, Illinois firm that conducted the review of the state-owned hatcheries, reported those and other findings to the House Game and Fisheries Committee at a briefing held July 31. FishPro is one of the nation’s leading experts on issues relating to aquaculture planning and design engineering and the application of aquaculture technology. The company has worked on more than 500 projects with 44 state agencies. FishPro previously completed comprehensive reviews of hatchery systems for states as diverse as Washington, Arkansas, Virginia and Maine.
“Stocking from PFBC-operated fish culture stations is an essential tool to provide fisheries resource management throughout the Commonwealth. In our opinion, the hatchery system in Pennsylvania compares very favorably with other state hatchery operations. For example, Fish and Boat Commission hatcheries currently employ two tiers of effluent treatment, where many facilities across the country have none,” FishPro’s Project Manager Tom Johnson told committee members.
“Although many of these facilities are rather old, they have been well maintained. Despite their age, they continue to be operated in an efficient manner. However, modernization of the Commonwealth’s Fish Culture Station system is vital to protecting the considerable investment the PFBC has made in hatchery operations. The improvements we detail will result in enhanced efficiencies, ensure the long-term, reliable operation of the system and minimize the impact of station operation on the water resources of the Commonwealth,” reported Johnson.
The FishPro report details $81 million in suggested improvements, ranging from modernization of ponds used for the production of warmwater/coolwater species such as bass, musky and walleye to additional levels of wastewater treatment and improved visitor amenities. The report broke the recommendations into three categories, with Priority One tasks being the most pressing. Some $51 million of the total improvements fall into the Priority One category. Influent and effluent water treatment upgrades comprise the bulk of Priority One recommendations.
“The PFBC system has operated within the numeric criteria set forth in its discharge permits. However, benthic impacts to the receiving streams remain a concern for both the PFBC and the Department of Environmental Protection,” said Johnson. The Commission has a stated goal of becoming a positive example for others with the quality of its discharge.
PFBC Executive Director Peter A. Colangelo said that FishPro’s findings are consistent with the agency has been reporting for the last several years.
“I have stated this previously and I will continue to emphasize that the challenges we face in our hatchery system can summarized in just two words: water and money. Our hatcheries are confronting challenges related to the quantity of water that flows into them and with regard to the quality of water that flows out of them. Addressing the urgent need to operate with less water and to discharge water of better quality will require upgraded technology, and it will take a good deal of time and money. We have sought, and we are continuing to seek, funding for these projects, and we need your help to keep Pennsylvania fishing,” Colangelo said.
Colangelo lauded the efforts of House Game and Fisheries Chairman Bruce Smith, committee member Representative Dave Levdansky and other legislators who recently attempted to secure long-term stable funding for PFBC infrastructure through an increase on fees levied on the dumping of municipal waste. While an increase in these so-called “tipping fees” was voted into law, the legislation that was adopted did not include any funding for PFBC, Pennsylvania Game Commission or Wild Resources Conservation Fund needs.
“We know what needs to be done for our hatcheries and other infrastructure needs. The FishPro report provides us with an important blueprint for addressing the hatchery system. Without a new, dedicated funding stream, however, we are essentially handcuffed into what we can actually undertake and accomplish. And the longer we wait to address these needs, the more expensive these projects become.” Colangelo said.
“Currently, we are limited to using the operating monies in the Fish Fund for these projects. License revenues are an appropriate method for funding our daily operating costs. But operating funds were never intended to fund major capital project needs. As a practical matter, we can not continue to deliver the basic programs that anglers and boater expect and deserve and at the same time attempt to address large priority project needs.”
Johnson told the Committee he agreed with that assessment, citing FishPro's experience with other agencies around the country. “We have worked in many states and understand the fiscal limitations that state fish and game agencies face. Only those states that have adopted some sort of funding mechanism beyond a dependence on license dollars have been able to begin successful implement the of type of long-term hatchery improvements like the ones we are recommending for Pennsylvania,” said Johnson.
While the long-term funding issue remains unresolved, the Commission has already begun work on an implementation plan for undertaking FishPro recommendations. Some improvements will be undertaken using the limited operating funds the Commission can devote this fiscal year. The Commission will also begin design work on other improvements so that it can expedite work should other funding become available.
The Commission is also developing a pilot project to test the feasibility and practicality of purchasing adult trout from private hatcheries to supplement the state’s production. FishPro conducted a preliminary evaluation of privatization and noted that commercial growers could only supply a portion of the state’s total needs. Of the numbers that private growers indicated they could supply, nearly half came from out-of-state facilities. FishPro suggested that program costs, fish quality, disease and other concerns be studied in a limited pilot before making any long-term decisions on privatization. The Department of Agriculture (which oversees aquaculture operations in the Commonwealth), commercial fish growers and the PFBC plan to form a working group to examine the issues related to privatization.
The PFBC contracted with FishPro Consulting Engineers & Scientist in March of 2001. FishPro was selected via a competitive interview process. FishPro is a national expert on issues relating to fish hatchery planning and design engineeringand the application of aquaculture technology.
Eastern Erie County /WCO Mark T. Kerr
EATON RESERVOIR THEFT UPDATE--- APPREHENSION:
Information regarding vehicle description and subject characteristics was obtained through the keen and thorough observations of numerous private citizens as well as other local law enforcement agencies.
Hopefully, this arrest will help deter any further activity of this type at any of our local recreational areas; further keeping with the traditionally safe and family oriented atmosphere that patrons of these areas have come to expect.
REPORT YOUR LOSS…
Once again, we thank all those who assisted in obtaining information and providing the support that resulted in the arrest of this individual. Good job folks!!!
Walleye—reported catches in the area of the mountain [42-16.250N & 79-57.200W, give or take] in 60’ of water. As well as just West of North East Marina in 95’ of water.
Perch—The boat pack was set in pretty heavy, on Sunday morning, North of Freeport Beach (Sixteenmile) in approximately 52’ of water. Of all the activity on the East-side this last week, Perch was the most sought after and most numerous catch.
Bass—Catch reports have been slower this week; primarily due, it is believed, to the recent abundance of Perch activity.