DEP nixes trout hatchery plan
The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission has been looking for ways to replace the trout it's lost over the last few years because of cutbacks at some of its hatcheries.
This won't be one of them.
The commission had requested, way back on June 13, 2001, that it be allowed to raise as many as 200,000 adult trout at Pleasant Mount, a warmwater hatchery it operates in Wayne County.
Pleasant Mount was used to raise adult trout until 1998, and lake trout fingerlings are still raised there.
The state Department of Environmental Protection, however, has all but killed the idea of raising adult trout there again.
Kate Crowley, manager of DEP's water management program, told the commission in a July 17 letter that DEP is worried "about the potential for degradation" if trout waste is allowed to be discharged into the West Branch of the Lackawaxen River, a "high quality" waterway. Crowley said DEP studies showed that the West Branch was negatively impacted when trout production was taking place at Pleasant Mount, and only rebounded after that production ceased.
As a result, the DEP is "not inclined to approve your request given the apparent direct correlation between trout production at the facility and impact on the receiving stream," Crowley wrote.
She did leave the door open a bit, saying DEP would consider any treatment proposals the commission might propose. But Rick Hoopes, director of the commission bureau of fisheries, said the kind of remedies that might satisfy the DEP would cost millions of dollars the commission doesn't have.
"It's going to cost a fortune to raise a couple of hundred thousand trout there," he said.
Realistically, the commission has no choice but to abandon its plans for Pleasant Mount, agreed Commissioner Leon Reed, of Wayne County.
"It's a shame. It's there, and it could give us 200,000 trout in a year or two," Reed said. "But I don't think there's any use getting in a fight with DEP over this because we're not going to win."