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Pa. officials have concerns about Beaver Run fishing

If Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission officials -- and sportsmen -- hope to get Beaver Run Reservoir open to fishing, they've apparently got their work cut out for them.

That's because county officials apparently have a whole lot of questions they want answered before they'll consider letting anglers cast any lines into Beaver Run.

The 1,300-acre lake stretches across Salem, Bell and Washington townships in northern Westmoreland County. It's owned by the Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County and serves as one of the county's chief drinking water sources. Built in 1952, it has never been open to public fishing.

Fish and Boat Commission waterways conservation officer Ron Evancho in March asked the municipal authority board to change the rules, though, and allow fishing in the portion of the lake south of Route 286. He suggested keeping the lake north of Route 286 closed as a nursery water.

Authority manager Chris Kerr was not overly receptive to the idea then. He said before even hearing Evancho's presentation that he would recommend keeping Beaver Run closed to fishing.

Evancho and the commission's legislative liaison, Gary Moore, got a chance to pitch the idea again, though, earlier this month in a meeting with Kerr and the Westmoreland County Commissioners.

"The meeting was for introductory purposes and to open a dialogue," said Fish and Boat Commission spokesman Dan Tredinnick.

Whether that meeting will lead to anything remains to be seen.

Kerr could not be reached for comment. Westmoreland County Commissioner Tom Ceraso said that while opening the lake to fishing wouldn't be a bad thing "in a perfect world," county officials have questions that need answered first.

Authority officials presented the Fish and Boat Commission with a list of 15 to 20 issues it would like addressed, he said. They include everything from concerns about the possibility of someone tainting the water and liability costs to litter and the need for more law enforcement at the lake, he said.

"So I'm just waiting and trying not to form an opinion until I hear back from the Fish and Boat Commission and the water authority," Ceraso said.

In the meantime, several state lawmakers -- including Rep. Joe Petrarca, a Westmoreland County Democrat -- have written letters to the authority suggesting it open the lake to fishing.

"I know that Beaver Run is obviously a community drinking water source, but to me it seems like (the Municipal Authority) should be able to work with the Fish and Boat Commission to open the reservoir for sportsmen and women in the area," Petrarca said.

Sportsmen have been working to make their desire to fish the lake known, too. Al Clemmons, a trustee of Keystone Rod and Gun Club and a Jeannette resident, has started a petition drive to show the support for opening the lake. He said he's collected 2,500 names and expects to get many more in the next few weeks.

"You ought to hear people talking about this," Clemmons said. "Everyone I'm talking to wants this."

That may or may not include municipal authority officials. Fish and Boat Commission executive director Doug Austen has talked with some of them. He said he's detected "mild interest" on their part to open the lake to fishing.

There's no doubt, however, that opening the lake would provide more access to fishing, an important part of the state economy, Austen said.

"There are probably 100 or more of these lakes around the state, and we'd certainly like to partner with the people who own them to manage them for public fishing," Austen said.

Additional Information:

Getting involved

Sportsmen interested in getting Beaver Run Reservoir open to public fishing are trying to get organized.

They've developed a flier -- which can be seen at farm1.static.flickr.com -- that's circulating on the Internet and in various locations. It lists the names and phone numbers of various county and state officials.

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