HARRISBURG, Pa. (April 16) – At its quarterly business meeting held today, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) authorized the acquisition of an access area along the Juniata River, added 42 new waters to the list of wild trout streams, proposed a regulation change to improve boating safety, and added two popular sections of Pine Creek to the list of waters open to year-round fishing.
Commissioners voted to accept the donation of a 4-acre parcel along State Route 1015 in Howe Township, Perry County, at River Mile 9.8 along the lower section of the Juniata River. The site is part of the Juniata River Water Trail and includes 1,000 feet of river frontage. Howe Township owns the land and has agreed to donate it to the PFBC, which plans to develop a single lane concrete plank boat launch ramp, expand the parking area and improve the access drive. The improvements will be made with a $54,775 grant the PFBC received from the Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network.
Also today, Commissioners added to the list of wild trout streams 42 new waters in Bedford, Blair, Bucks, Carbon, Clearfield, Elk, Forest, Huntingdon, Luzerne, Lycoming, McKean, Schuylkill, Somerset, Sullivan, Warren and Wayne counties. The list can be found on the PFBC website. Five stream sections in Carbon and Centre counties were added to the list of Class A wild trout streams. The list can be found on the PFBC website.
In other actions, Commissioners:
- Approved a notice of proposed rulemaking that amends the regulations for unacceptable boating practices by adding language stating that it is unlawful to operate a motorboat with persons riding outside the passenger carrying area. The PFBC defines this area as the space intended by the manufacturer for persons to sit or stand while the boat is underway.
“Our waterways conservation officers are regularly called to assist with incidents where an individual was standing or sitting on the bow or transom and were thrown into the water when the boat hit an unexpected wake or made a sudden turn,” said Corey Britcher, PFBC Director of Law Enforcement. “It is simply unsafe to be at these spots when a boat is underway.”
If adopted as a final rulemaking, the amendment would go into effect on Jan. 1, 2014.
- Approved a Non-Surface Use Oil and Gas Cooperative Agreement with Chesapeake Appalachia, L.L.C. for the development of oil and natural gas at the PFBC’s Trimble and Terrytown access areas in Terry Township, Bradford County. The Trimble Access is about 18.5 acres and the Terrytown Access 6.37 acres. Chesapeake has offered the PFBC a five-year primary term, a $1,250 per acre up-front bonus payment of $31,177 and a royalty rate of 20 percent. The bonus payment and all royalties will be deposited into the Fish Fund where they will be used to fund efforts to revitalize and repair Commonwealth-owned high-hazard dams managed by the PFBC.
- Reaffirmed their past positions in support of agency independence by stating: “The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission’s independent status is critical to fulfilling its unique mission. Its independence provides the flexibility to act upon the substantial challenges and opportunities it faces. The Board of the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission opposes any action that will threaten or compromise the agency’s independence.”
House Resolution 129 of 2013 calls for the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee to study the merger of the Game Commission and PFBC, including an analysis of funding options, within 180 days of the adoption of the resolution. HR 129 passed unanimously out of the House Game and Fisheries Committee on March 13, but has not been considered by the full House of Representatives. The board issued similar statements in 1972, 1988 and 2003.
- Approved a notice of proposed rulemaking to reduce creel limits for American Shad from six to three on the 2.9-mile section of the Delaware River from the Commodore Barry Bridge to the Delaware state line. The changes would make the Commonwealth regulations consistent with New Jersey regulations. The three-fish creel limit is already in effect on the Delaware River upstream of the Commodore Barry Bridge. If adopted on final rulemaking, the change would go into effect on Jan. 1, 2014.
- Approved a notice of proposed rulemaking to move the Eastern Spadefoot toad from the Endangered Species list to the Threatened Species list.
- Approved the designation of Sections 10 and 12 of Pine Creek as Approved Trout Waters Open to Year-Round Fishing, effective Jan. 1, 2014. This designation provides additional angling opportunities by allowing anglers to fish from March 1 through the opening day of trout season on a catch and release basis. Currently, both stream sections are managed under Approved Trout Waters regulations and stocked trout angling opportunities are limited to about a 7-8 week period between the opening day of trout season and early June when water temperatures often become too warm for trout.
“The fisheries management plan for Pine Creek identifies Sections 10 and 12 as excellent candidates for the year-round program because the stream sections are popular with anglers and tend to warm quickly due to their large size, with temperatures often becoming marginal for trout by early June,” said Dave Miko, chief of the PFBC Division of Fisheries Management.
“This change would increase recreational angling opportunities for stocked trout on this water by an additional 4-5 weeks,” added Miko. “This time period often provides excellent fishing, including some of the stream’s best insect hatches for fly fishing, which is the most common type of tackle used on Pine Creek based on the 2008 Pine Creek Angler Survey.”
Pine Creek, Section 10, extends for 11.1 miles from the SR 414 Bridge in Blackwell (350 meters upstream of the confluence with Babb Creek) downstream to the confluence with Slate Run (upper limit of the 1.2 mile-long delayed harvest artificial lures only reach). Section 12 extends for 15.1 miles from 150 meters upstream of the confluence with Naval Run (lower limit of the delayed harvest artificial lures only reach) downstream to the confluence with Little Pine Creek in Waterville.
A complete copy of the meeting schedule and the full agenda for the meeting can be found on the Commission’s web site at www.fishandboat.com/minutes.