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Beaver Run Reservoir fishing status still undecided

| Sunday, Aug. 5, 2007

If Beaver Run Reservoir were opened to public fishing, it would likely see bigger-than-average crowds of anglers at first, Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission officials admit.

But they don't think that will last.

The commission is seeking to come to some kind of agreement with the Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County -- which owns the lake -- to open a portion of it to fishing. The authority has never allowed fishing at the lake. Earlier this spring, authority officials told the commission that they would need some questions answered before they could decide whether to change that stance.

One question centered around how many people might visit the lake if it were opened to fishing.

The commission's answer, outlined in a letter from executive director Doug Austen to the authority, is an average of 5,622 anglerstrips per month from April through August.

The commission has no "magic formula" for determining how many angler trips a lake will generate based on its size or fishery, said spokesman Dan Tredinnick. However, there is generally a lot of interest in fishing a water supply reservoir when it first opens, he said.

That interest tends to tail off over time, Tredinnick said, but -- given the fact that anglers routinely sneak in to fish Beaver Run now, despite the threat of being fined for trespassing -- there would undoubtedly be a lot of interest in the lake initially.

"Our estimate is kind of on the higher side of average," he said.

How that might impact the authority's thinking is unclear. Officials with the agency have been loathe to discuss their plans for the lake publicly, and some board members have privately expressed unhappiness with the amount of media and angler "pressure" they've received on the issue.

Authority manager Chris Kerr declined to comment on the commission's responses to authority questions, too. He expects the authority to set up a meeting with the Fish and Boat Commission, but he said officials haven't yet had time to review the letter in depth.

"We just received their letter the other day," Kerr said. "We're in the process of looking it over and seeing if it answers our questions and meets our needs, but I can't really comment beyond that right now."

Additional Information:

More on Beaver Run

Here's a look at what else the Fish and Boat Commission had to say regarding Beaver Run Reservoir:

* The commission indicated a willingness -- through grants, in-kind services or materials, and signage -- to build parking lots that would have 'little or no impact on the environment and the Authority's forestry and gas well programs.' The commission would also pay for some or all of the costs of installing portable toilets.

* The commission would provide 'vigorous and sufficient' law enforcement patrols, especially the first year.

* Opening Beaver Run to shoreline fishing would not, the commission said, decrease the revenues the county currently receives from boating, hiking, pavilion rentals and other resources at its parks because there are no plans to add those amenities at the reservoir.

* If the reservoir were opened to fishing, commission biologists would sample the lake and determine the appropriate regulations for it.

* According to the commission, the state Department of Environmental Protection does not recommend barring access to drinking water reservoirs for reasons of homeland security. Instead, the 'DEP believes outdoors enthusiasts can be a good set of eyes and ears for the water supplier.' With that in mind, the commission would post signs with phone numbers anglers could call if they noticed any suspicious activity.

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