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Notes from the outdoors

Bob Frye
| Sunday, Aug. 16, 2009

Around the Fish and Boat Commission

• The Fish and Boat Commission is saving money by going into the real estate business.

Commissioners have agreed to buy one home located downstream of the dam at its Virgin Run Dam property in Fayette County. The commission will pay $105,000 for the home, even though its was appraised at $61,000.

The agency figures that number is low, given that the home has a new addition and public water.

Even then, commission officials believe they are making out. That's because Virgin Run Dam is a "high hazard" dam in need of repairs to bring it into compliance with state standards. Actually doing those repairs would cost more than $4.2 million and require draining the lake for at least a year.

The commission wants to avoid all of that, and can by purchasing and razing the home, the only one between Virgin Run and the Yough River in the "inundation area that would be impacted in the event of a dam failure."

Tearing down the house will be enough to change the status of the dam to "non-high hazard" and eliminate the need for repairing it.

• The Fish and Boat Commission has a new board member.

G. Warren Elliott has taken the place of Don Anderson of Somerset County as one of the board's two at-large boating commissioners.

Warren works as a senior sales representative for General Code Publishers, and served as a Franklin County Commissioner from 1996 to 2008. He's won several awards for his extensive work in farmland preservation and conservation.

He's a Trout Unlimited member, too.

Around the Game Commission

• Game Commission officers have related several incidents lately that show how interesting dealing with wildlife can be.

In Fayette County, conservation officers Jason Farabaugh said a Connellsville woman recently was surprised to find three deer standing in her dining room.

"Apparently, the deer made there way into the home through the open garage door as the woman was carrying groceries into the house," he said. "Luckily, the deer found their way back out of the home with only minimal damage to the floors." Cranberry resident Dale Silvis, meanwhile, contacted land manager James Donatelli to report an unusual road-killed black snake.

"The snake had consumed three turkey poults," Donatelli said.

In Allegheny County, conservation officer Dan Puhala had to help rescue a fawn that had become trapped in a storm drain with no apparent way out.

"A local resident heard the fawn bleating while they walked by with their dog and called the Game Commission," Puhala said

With help from a bystander, Puhala was able to pull the fawn from a pipe in the storm drain. It was released and ran off into the woods with what appeared to only be a few minor scrapes.

• Game Commission wildlife conservation officer Clint Deniker has been saluted as a hero.

Deniker, who serves in Venango County, saved the life of a driver trapped during a car crash on April 4, 2008.

On that day, Deniker came upon an overturned and burning vehicle. He quickly cut the seat belt and carried the driver 50 yards to safety before administering first aid.

For his action, he was presented with the Governor's Award for Excellence and a Carnegie Hero's Fund Medal.

Deniker is a graduate of Slippery Rock University who lives in the Grove City area with his wife Kim.

• Game Commission officials say bald eagles are doing well locally.

Gary Toward, a wildlife conservation officer in Armstrong County, said bald eagles successfully nested this year again on Crooked Creek Lake. There were reports of three juvenile birds at the nest site the last week of June, he said.

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