HARRISBURG, Pa. (October 16) – At the start of today’s formal meeting, the Board heard remarks from Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) Executive Director, John Arway, who will be retiring on November 2. In his final report to the board, Arway reflected on 38 years of service to the Commission, the final eight of which were as Executive Director.
“I want to thank the Board for your support in advancing the goals and objectives of the Strategic Plan we set for the agency over 8 years ago,” said Arway. “Although we didn’t accomplish all elements of the plan, most significantly a revenue increase to fund future operations, we did do many good things together that benefited both the conservation of our Commonwealth’s aquatic resources and recreational fishing and boating.”
Board members thanked Arway for his dedication and wished him well in his retirement. It was indicated that the search for a new executive director is still ongoing.
Commissioners acted on a pair of real estate matters involving Hereford Manor, a 412-acre property located in Franklin Township, Beaver County. Approval was given to the sale of a 7-acre tract of the property to the Zelienople Airport Authority for a sale price of approximately $94,000. Additionally, Commissioners voted to approve a $70,560 offer by the Authority to secure an avigation easement on an additional 177 acres of the property north of State Route 288. Both transactions are occurring so that the Authority can comply with state and federal land and airspace requirements as it conducts a facilities rehabilitation. PFBC will retain all oil, gas, coal, mineral and timber rights on the properties.
The Board issued final rulemaking on numerous revenue enhancements designed to counter declines in traditional revenue and escalating costs associated with current programs. Commissioners voted to approve permit fee increases for Scientific Collectors’ Permits and permit fees for Triploid Grass Carp, Snapping Turtles, Venomous Snakes and Organized Reptile and Amphibian Hunts. These proposed increases in permit fees are in line with a U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index (CPI) tool that is based on annual inflation rates. Approved increases are from $5 to $30 depending on the permit. Some of these permits have not been increased since 2008.
The Board also approved an increase in the fee for the cutting and removal of firewood from Commission properties to $50 per standard rough cord. The previous fee of $10 was established in 1984 and did not reflect the current market value.
Additionally, Commissioners approved a pair of increases to one-time, nonrefundable fees paid to the Commission by applicants seeking to become issuing agents for the Pennsylvania Automated Licensing Service (PALS). The fee for new applicants wishing to become an issuing agent for fishing licenses was raised from $150 to $250, marking the first increase to the fee since it was established in 2006. The fee for applicants wishing to become an issuing agent for temporary boat registrations was raised from $100 to $250, the first adjustment to the fee since 2001. All amended rate changes will go into effect upon the publishing of the Pennsylvania Bulletin.
In other official action today, the Board voted to authorize a grant in the amount of $750,000 to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) for Phase 2 of the design and permitting of Beechwood Lake Dam in Clymer Township, Tioga County. The project will result in an upgrade of the dam, which was originally built in 1963, to meet modern standards and safety regulations. Funds for the project were originally provided by NRCS to PFBC and will be transferred back to NRCS in the form of a grant to ensure that the full amount of federal funding available is applied to the project. It is expected to be completed in September of 2021.
Approval was given for an Erie Access Improvement Program grant in the amount of $382,400 to the Erie-Western Pennsylvania Port Authority. Grant dollars generated through the sale of special Lake Erie fishing permits will fund the construction of a 130-foot handicapped accessible fishing platform at the Holland Street Pier. A grant in the amount of $200,000 was also approved by the Commission to assist the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy with a streambank stabilization and habitat improvement project along Elk Creek.
Fisheries and Hatcheries Bureau staff presented Commissioners with a proposal to amend fishing regulations at Chapman Dam Reservoir in Pleasant Township, Warren County, to designate the fishery as Catch and Release for all species except trout. The approximately 68-acre impoundment was recently refilled after a complete drawdown in 2017 to perform maintenance and repairs. In spring 2018, the reservoir was stocked with fingerling warm and cool water fish species. Commissioners voted to approve the proposal for final consideration at a future meeting.
Commissioners approved the designation of ten stream sections to its list of Class A wild trout streams. These additions will go into effect upon publication of a second notice in the Pennsylvania Bulletin. A current list can be found on the PFBC website.
The Board also approved the addition of 99 new waters to the Commission’s list of wild trout streams and revised the section limit of four waters. These additions will go into effect upon the publication of a second notice in the Pennsylvania Bulletin. The list of these waters can be found on the PFBC website.
In Bradford County, Commissioners approved a proposal to add the Bradford City Number Two Reservoir to the Catch and Release Lakes Program.
Commissioners approved several additions to its Stocked Trout Waters Open to Year-round Fishing program. The additions are Cooks Pond in Orwell Township, Bradford County, the Lehigh River, Section 08, in Carbon County, and the West Branch Susquehanna River, Section 05, in Clearfield County.
In Union County, Commissioners voted to add Penns Creek, Section 05, to its list of Catch and Release Artificial Lures Only program. The designation change reflects a desire by the Commission to further protect wild trout within the newly documented Class A Wild Trout population in the 3.8-mile section of creek. Because of the new designation, there will be no stocking of trout in this section of water. Trout previously allocated for stocking in Section 05 will now be stocked in Penns Creek, Section 07, located downstream.
In Blair County, the Little Juniata River, Section 3, was removed from the Delayed Harvest Artificial Lures Only program. All new fishery regulation designations approved by Commissioners will take effect on January 1, 2019 unless otherwise noted.
Relating to law enforcement regulations, Commissioners voted to approve a change in language aimed to provide additional youth fishing opportunities. The amendment to Title 58, Section 65.21 changes the definition of the term “children” from someone “12 years of age or under” to “15 years of age or under.” The change more accurately reflects Pennsylvania fishing regulations, which do not require a person to purchase a fishing license until the age of 16. The change in code would allow a greater number of youth to participate in fishing in areas regulated by the Commission for the exclusive use of children. This change will go into effect upon publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.
A complete copy of today’s agenda is available on the PFBC website.
Mike Parker, Communications Director