Loyalsock Creek Finalist for Pennsylvania 2018 River of the Year

The 64-mile-long Loyalsock Creek is making a big splash for a small waterway tucked within the mountains of north-central Pennsylvania. It has been selected as one of five finalists for Pennsylvania’s 2018 River of the Year, with the winner being decided by the public through an online voting process.

The Loyalsock Creek was nominated by Middle Susquehanna RIVERKEEPER® Association, Inc. in partnership with Loyalsock Creek Watershed Association (LCWA). After a review of all nominations, the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), in cooperation with the Pennsylvania Organization for Watersheds and Rivers (POWR) – an affiliate of the Pennsylvania Environmental Council, chose five finalists for 2018: Lackawanna River, Little Juniata River, Lower Susquehanna/ Susquehanna Riverlands, Connoquenessing Creek, and Loyalsock Creek.

The Loyalsock Creek, with its headwaters in western Wyoming County, flows through Sullivan and Lycoming Counties before entering the West Branch Susquehanna River. It is home to ongoing university research and local watershed improvement projects, which, in addition to the uniqueness of the watershed itself, is one of the selection criteria for the river of the year designation.

“The Lycoming College Clean Water Institute (CWI) supports the nomination of the Loyalsock Creek to be 2018 River of the Year,” shares Dr. Mel Zimmerman, CWI Director and Professor Emeritus of Biology at Lycoming College. “The Loyalsock Creek flows through some of the most pristine parts of the Loyalsock State Forest, several Pennsylvania Game Lands, and the unique topography of Worlds End State Park. For much of its length, the Water Quality is considered Exceptional Value/High Quality. Designating the Loyalsock Creek as River of the Year will highlight this jewel watershed in north-central Pennsylvania to the rest of the state.”

According to Dr. Zimmerman, the Loyalsock Creek is home to over 36 species of fish, 130 macroinvertebrates, and a population of the largest salamander in North America – the Eastern Hellbender. Currently the Hellbender is being considered as the Pennsylvania state amphibian.

Speaking as a board member of the LCWA, Dr. Zimmerman praises this group for over 30 years of dedication to conservation and environmental projects on the “Sock.” As a dedicated group of volunteers, LCWA directs or supports partnerships that have been actively involved in projects such as stream restoration, abandoned mine drainage (AMD) and acid rain treatment, stream clean-ups, and educational outreach that includes public meetings, the annual fishing derby, and youth/school environmental programs.

The nominating organization of the winner of the Pennsylvania 2018 River of the Year receives a DCNR leadership grant to help fund a year of celebratory activities and programs, including a sojourn or paddling event. The waterway is also commemorated with a watershed-specific poster displayed throughout the state during the year.

“The Loyalsock Creek,” offers Carol Parenzan, Middle Susquehanna RIVERKEEPER®, “has held a special place in my heart since I took my first unplanned cold water swim in her during a canoeing expedition as a teenager. Today, it is my ‘go-to’ place when I need to reconnect with the watershed and remind myself why I advocate so strongly for clean water throughout my 11,000-square-mile Susquehanna River territory. The Loyalsock brings me peace. It reminds me that it’s okay to slip into a quiet eddy behind a rock when needed to catch my breath before peeling out and dancing again with the current of life. We all need those eddies.”

Don’t let the designation of “river” take you outside the selection buoys! The competition is open to any Pennsylvania waterway – streams, creeks, rivers, and even lakes. To cast your vote for the Loyalsock Creek, go to www.pariveroftheyear.org. The last opportunity to show your “Loyalsock Love” is December 22 at 5PM. One vote is allowed for each email address.

For questions or comments, please contact:

Carol Parenzan, Middle Susquehanna RIVERKEEPER® Association, Inc., 570.768.6300, midsusriver@gmail.com

Dr. Mel Zimmerman, Lycoming College Clean Water Institute and Loyalsock Creek Watershed Association, 570-321-4185, zimmer@lycoming.edu

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Coldwater Heritage Plan for the Rock Run Watershed

At our meeting last night, November 8, Shawn Rummel Phd, (Field and Research Manager of Trout Unlimited’s Pennsylvania Coldwater Habitat Restoration Program) presented the final report for the survey that was done of the Rock Run Watershed.

The final report is attached here for your review.  If you would like a copy emailed to you, let us know at susquehannatu@gmail.com.

2017-11-07 RockRunCHP_Report_Final_withAppendix

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Stand up for PA Fish & Boat

The following is from Charlie Charlesworth, President of the Pennsylvania Council of Trout Unlimited.  Please share this with your family and friends and contact your Representatives to urge them to not support Senate Bill 935.

The Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission (PFBC) is an independent agency supported by license and registration fees for anglers and boaters. Raising these fees requires action by the General Assembly — which has not approved an increase in 12 years. As a result, the PFBC has had to cut staff and defer maintenance. Last month, the commission cleared the way for more severe cuts.

Legislation to fix this problem is languishing in Harrisburg. Instead, lawmakers are considering a separate bill that would interfere with the Commission’s independence by imposing an eight-year term limit on the executive director. This would effectively force the PFBC to select a new leader early next year.

We oppose this legislation for two reasons:

(1) It upends the tried-and-true process by which Commissioners decide when it is time for fresh leadership.

(2) It distracts from the main issue at hand, which is the need to put the PFBC on sound financial footing so it can do the critical work of protecting and enhancing our fisheries.

This legislation, Senate Bill 935, has cleared the Senate and is awaiting action in the House.

Please reach out to your House representative today and make your voice heard on this issue.

First, visit this page to find your legislator, then call or email to urge him or her to oppose Senate Bill 935.

Phone numbers and email addresses can be found here.

We would suggest using the follow sample comments in your messages or conversations:

Dear Rep. [name]:

I’m writing in opposition to Senate Bill 935, establishing a term limit on the executive director of the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission. This bill would threaten the independence of the PFBC and upset the normal process by which Commissioners decide when it is time for a change in leadership. More importantly, it would fail to address the underlying fiscal issues that plague the agency.

It’s understandable that PFBC leaders, who are charged with safeguarding our fisheries, and lawmakers, who provide necessary public oversight, are frustrated that the Commission’s financial shortfalls are not being addressed. And it’s regrettable that debate about this issue has become so contentious.

I’m an angler and conservationist, and I support legislation that would allow the PFBC to raise its license fees so it can get back on sound financial footing. It has been 12 years since the last fee increase. Sportsmen like me are willing to pay a little more, because we know first-hand how much the Commission does to protect and enhance Pennsylvania’s economically valuable fisheries.

Unfortunately, Senate Bill 935 does nothing to move the PFBC closer to a stable balance sheet. I would urge you to oppose this bill, and instead work with your colleagues to pass legislation like Senate Bill 30 that would allow PFBC to get back to the job of protecting our streams and our fisheries.

Sincerely,

[your name]

 

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Rock Run Coldwater Conservation Plan is Topic of Chapter Meeting

A presentation of the final report on the Coldwater Heritage Partnership Conservation Plan for the Rock Run (tributary of Lycoming Creek) watershed will be the theme of the Wednesday, November 8th monthly meeting of the Susquehanna Chapter of Trout Unlimited at 7 pm at the Fellowship Hall of the Covenant Central Presbyterian Church, 807 W/ 4th Street, Williamsport. Shawn Rummel, Field and Research Manager of Trout Unlimited’s Eastern Abandoned Mine and Brook Trout Program office in Lock Haven, which developed the plan, will summarize findings and recommendations to protect and enhance the water quality and fisheries potential of this exceptionally scenic and important stream in northcentral PA. The public is welcome and encouraged to attend.

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Chapter Meeting Location Has Changed

     Effective with our November 8, 2017 Chapter meeting, all Chapter activities will be held at the Covenant Central Presbyterian Church, 807 W 4th St, Williamsport, PA 17701 (a map is provided on page 3). Parking is at the rear of the Church and you enter off of Campbell Street and access the social hall from the parking lot. Our move is due to circumstances beyond our control.
The Chapter wants to thank the First Presbyterian Church and its members for allowing us to meet there for the last several years and for providing space to store our inventory. We appreciate the generosity shown to us.
The Chapter also has to thank Dave Craig for his efforts in finding us a new meeting location and making the arrangements for us to meet at, and use, Covenant Central Presbyterian Church.
We are excited about our new “home” and have already moved our inventory of fly tying materials and other donated items to the new location. We look forward to our future relationship with the members of the Covenant Central Presbyterian Church

807 W. 4th street1

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Contact your Representative and urge them to act on, and vote for, Senate Bill 30

Fiscal Responsibility for Pennsylvania Anglers and Boaters

     The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) is a government business funded primarily by sales of fishing licenses and boat registrations. The majority of government agencies receive general fund appropriations of tax revenues to support public service programs. The PFBC generates revenues through customer sales like a for-profit business, but the PFBC must also follow the rules of government for managing operations and receive legislative approval to increase fees charged for the goods (hatchery fish) and services (public safety; aquatic resource protection and conservation) provided to meet angler and boater customer expectations. The agency’s spending and earning model is really a mix of business and government principles.

     The agency is mindful of the responsibility of managing its angler and boater customers’ hard-earned dollars wisely. Until this year, the PFBC has been able to balance its budget and not spent more than it earned. This fiscal management approach has allowed it to build a rainy day fund of uncommitted reserves to prepare for and meet foreseen pension costs. The agency proudly leads the nation in how efficiently it operates. The Legislative Budget and Finance Committee found in 2014 that “of the states for which we have expenditure information, Pennsylvania’s

PFBC has the lowest expenditures per license (emphasis added).”

     In order to meet the escalating costs of employee pensions, health care, and general inflation faced by all Commonwealth agencies, the PFBC has cut spending in large part by reducing staff from a high of 432 to around 360. At the same time, the value of a fishing license adjusted for inflation has dropped to about $16.25, while fish production costs have climbed dramatically. The true cost of today’s fishing license adjusted for inflation would be $37.18. At $22.90, today’s license value is a real bargain for PA anglers!

               Revenues & Expenditures                             Major Cost Drivers – Employee BenefitsPicture1

Additional annual personnel and operating costs of $6.2 million have caused expenditures to now exceed annual revenues. Absent a revenue increase, the PFBC will begin using an uncommitted reserve fund balance of about $60 million to cover essential health care and pension obligations and maintain operations and services, which will deplete the reserve fund within five years if revenues don’t increase.

     In an analysis of the PFBC, Penn State’s Smeal College of Business and College of Agricultural Sciences found “the agency’s reserve fund should be seen as a ‘strategic strength’ and should be maintained as a type of rainy day fund for unforeseen needs. It would weaken the agency if the reserve fund were depleted to zero.”

     Facing escalating costs and declining revenues after 12 years without an increase in the price of a fishing license, the PFBC Board of Commissioners voted on September 25, 2017, to reduce spending by $2 million in fiscal year 2018-19 if no additional revenues are received. The current plan for achieving the $2 million reduction in operating expenses would involve closing two warm water hatcheries and one trout hatchery in FY 2018-19. The plan would reduce the number of trout stocked in 2019 by 7.5 percent and result in severe reductions to the cooperative nursery program. Barring a price increase, the agency must begin to take these steps to remain financially solvent and provide basic services to Pennsylvania’s 1.1 million anglers and nearly 3 million boaters.

     Senate Bill 30, which delegates authority to set license fees to the PFBC, has passed the Senate and stalled in the House. It is imperative for the legislature to act on some form of fee increase for the PFBC to continue to be fiscally responsible. Fiscal responsibility means maintaining a balanced budget and not spending more than it earns. SB 30 would allow the PFBC to generate sufficient revenue to immediately spend unrestricted reserves on over $6.4 million of deferred critical needs and a prioritized list of $110 million in deferred infrastructure projects.

     Pennsylvania anglers significantly contribute $1.2 billion to the $46 billion in national fishing expenditures.

Successful businesses require funding to sustain operations and to invest in new ideas to grow sales and participation. The same applies to successful government businesses like the PFBC, which reinvests license revenue locally. It is time the legislature recognizes that the Commission is fiscally responsible and provide the necessary funds to meet the expectations of current and future generations of Pennsylvania anglers and boaters.

We are asking you to contact your Representative and the House Game and Fisheries Committee leadership and urge them to support Senate Bill 30 and to vote yes for this important Bill. If you do not know who your representative is, please go to http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/home/findyourlegislator/

Hon. Keith Gillespie, Chair
House Game and Fisheries Committee
45 East Wing
PO Box 202047
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2047
717) 705-7167
Fax: (717) 782-2914

Hon. Bryan Barbin, Democratic Chair
House Game and Fisheries Committee
321 Irvis Office Building
P O Box 202071
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2071
717) 783-1491
Fax: (717) 705-7001

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“Great Fall Trout Fishing: Where, When & How”

“Now is the Time for Great Fall Fishing” will be the theme of the Wednesday, October 11th monthly meeting of the Susquehanna Chapter of Trout Unlimited at 7 pm at the Fellowship Hall at the rear of the First Presbyterian Church, 102 East Third Street in Williamsport.  Veteran local angler Jim Latini will describe the many notable trout streams here in northcentral PA which can provide exceptional fall fishing opportunities. Jim will cover how to obtain maps to find the best spots, up-to-date stream conditions such as flows and temperatures by using internet sites, and some tips on how to fish those streams when you go. The public is welcome and encouraged to attend.

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