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Outdoors notebook: Public access acquired in state's elk range

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Sunday, Nov. 11, 2012, 9:28 p.m.

Outdoorsmen now have some extra room to roam in Pennsylvania's elk range along a stream that's getting healthier all the time.

The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy recently acquired a 24-plus acre property along the Bennett Branch of the Sinnemahoning River in Benezette Township, Elk County. The undeveloped, forested property near State Route 555 contains 2,400 feet of stream frontage.

The Bennett Branch once was a nationally noted trout fishing stream, a favorite of U.S. President Ulysses Grant. But acid mine drainage and heavy metals destroyed it.

For more than three decades, though, work to clean up the stream has been ongoing, including the building of a $14 million acid mine drainage treatment facility a few years ago.

This latest purchase is meant to give the public access to the improving waterway so that they'll eventually be able to fish and boat there — perhaps even from handicap-accessible areas.

Erie fishing

Populations of some of Lake Erie's most popular fish may be on the downswing, according to some research done in Ohio.

That state's Division of Wildlife does an annual trawl survey on Erie to predict future populations of walleyes and yellow perch. This year's survey found the number of young walleye and perch in the lake's western basin were up compared to 2011 but still “well below” the long-term average. In the central basin, adult yellow perch were abundant, but young fish below average.

Similar surveys are being conducted in Pennsylvania, New York, Michigan and Ontario. The combined results will be used to set creel limits for 2013.

Rifle championship

Joe Fischer of Stoystown, Somerset County, won the recent Pennsylvania State Outdoor 3-Position Championship at Murrysville Rifle Club. Jack Anderson of Franklin finished second followed by Emilee Miller of Boswell, who was also the top-finishing female.

Shooters competed at 50 meters, firing from the prone, standing and kneeling positions.

Range grant

White Oak Rod and Gun Club received a $5,000 grant from the National Rifle Association to help pay for a multi-range improvement project. The club also recently received a $500 donation from an individual member for its youth shooting programs.

Bob Frye is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at or 724-838-5148.

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