HARRISBURG, Pa. (October 22) – During today's formal meeting, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) Board of Commissioners took steps towards replacing a long-standing regulation that requires anglers to display their fishing license on an outer garment while fishing.
Under a proposed amendment to Section 63.2 (PA Title 58), the current display requirement would be replaced with a possession requirement, which would require only that an angler carry the license on their person while fishing and present the license to a PFBC law enforcement officer upon request. Under this proposal, anglers who still wish to display their fishing license on an outer garment may continue to do so. While the PFBC seeks legislation that would allow for the display of a fishing license on a mobile device, this amendment would still require a printed and signed license to be possessed. The Commission acted to approve the publication of proposed rulemaking containing the amendments to the fishing license display regulation and following publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin the proposal will be considered for final rulemaking at a future meeting of the Commission.
In other action, the Board considered numerous property access and real estate matters intended to provide more public fishing and boating access.
Under one agreement, Commissioners authorized the acquisition of an easement on a 6,460 linear foot parcel of property along Conneaut Creek in Spring Township, Crawford County. Pending further due diligence, the Commission will pay $90,000 for the land along Jerusalem Road north of Springfield, PA, to be used for public fishing, boating, and riparian and fishery management. This easement would be funded using monies collected by the PFBC through the sale of special Lake Erie fishing permits. To date, the PFBC has acquired 28.71 miles (151,594 linear feet) of public fishing access in the Lake Erie Watershed through easements and land purchases under the Erie Access Improvement Program.
In Huntingdon County, the Board authorized the acquisition of a lease of 4,690 linear feet of property along the Little Juniata River to provide public fishing access and fisheries management opportunities. Under the agreement, the PFBC will utilize funds provided by the Little Juniata River Association to pay an initial fee of $5,000 to New Enterprise Stone and Lime Company, Inc. for access to multiple parcels of land in Warrior's Mark Township, near Tyrone, PA. The terms of the lease will be revisited annually. The Little Juniata River provides significant wild brown trout fishing opportunities in the area.
In separate real estate matters, Commissioners authorized the Executive Director to enter into an agreement with Wayne County for the conveyance of approximately one-third (+/- 40.7 acres) and the lease of approximately two-thirds (+/- 81.3 acres) of the Hankins Pond property located in Mount Pleasant Township. This agreement is the result of ongoing negotiations between the PFBC, Wayne County, and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) aimed at addressing concerns about the safety of the Hankins Pond Dam while also protecting the structure, which has local historical significance.
In September 2018, when the Commission was preparing to remove a 150-foot section of the Hankins Pond dam, as required by the DEP's Division of Dam Safety, Wayne County filed a legal action to stop the breach. The Commission filed preliminary objections to the complaint forcing the County to join DEP as an indispensable party since the issue before the court involved a hazard determination made by DEP. The County, DEP, and the Commission have spent the past year negotiating a settlement that will preserve the historical structure of the dam while eliminating the danger of a catastrophic failure should the lake refill in a flood event. Additional details about the settlement can be found within the full meeting Agenda.
In Northampton County, the Board approved final rulemaking to amend fishing regulations for Minsi Lake, requiring catch and release/no harvest for all species except trout, and to apply Commonwealth Inland Waters regulations for trout. This reservoir was completely dewatered in June 2017 to complete dam and spillway repairs and modifications per Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PA DEP) dam safety standards. The application of this special regulation is intended to protect fish populations during the restocking process beginning in spring 2020 or as soon as refilling conditions allow with fingerling plants of select fish species to establish a high quality warm-water and cool-water fishery. Once the warm-water fishery has been reestablished, the lake will be recommended for removal from the miscellaneous special regulation and inclusion in one of the Commission's existing warm-water regulation programs. The amendment will go into effect upon publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.
In Westmoreland County, Commissioners approved final rulemaking to amend fishing regulations for Donegal Lake, requiring catch and release/no harvest for all species except trout, and to apply Commonwealth Inland Waters regulation for trout. This reservoir was completely dewatered during fall 2016 to complete control tower, dam and spillway repairs and modifications per PA DEP dam safety standards. The application of this special regulation is intended to protect fish populations during the restocking process beginning in spring 2020 or as soon as refilling conditions allow with fingerling plants of select fish species to establish a high quality warm-water and cool-water fishery. Once the warm-water fishery has been reestablished, the lake will be recommended for removal from the miscellaneous special regulation and inclusion in one of the Commission's existing warm-water regulation programs. The amendment will go into effect upon publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.
Commissioners approved the publication of a notice of proposed rulemaking regarding seasons, sizes and creel limits within Lake Erie, its tributaries and Presque Isle Bay including peninsula waters, Erie County. Past Commission actions gave authority to the Executive Director to adjust harvest limits for Walleye and Yellow Perch based upon adaptive management methods for these water bodies to maintain consistency in angler catch rate given the vagaries of weather and other biotic and abiotic influences upon recruitment or production of young for these species. Following that approval, staff identified a slight discrepancy in the start date of Walleye season for Inland Waters and Lake Erie waters. In both cases the start date occurs within one week of one another. To maintain regulatory consistency and simplicity, staff recommend the Lake Erie, Lake tributaries, Presque Isle Bay, and peninsular water Walleye seasonal opening days be the same as that for Commonwealth Inland Waters (January 1 – March 14, 2020; and 12:01 a.m. on the first Saturday in May to midnight, December 31, 2020). This small housekeeping change is expected to be unnoticed by anglers and have negligible impact upon fishing opportunity but will serve to simplify and make clear harvest rules applicable to Walleyes across much of the Commonwealth. If adopted on final rulemaking, the amendment will go into effect upon publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.
In other action, Commissioners approved the designation of three stream sections to the list of Class A wild trout streams. The board also approved the addition of 36 new waters to the Commission's list of wild trout streams and a revision to the section limits of one water. These additions and revisions will go into effect upon the publication of a second notice in the Pennsylvania Bulletin. A list of waters proposed for wild trout stream and Class A Wild Trout Stream designation can be found on the PFBC website.
The Board voted to extend the limits to nine stream sections managed under the Delayed Harvest Artificial Lures Only (DHALO) Program, eight of which are also included in the Keystone Select Stocked Trout Waters Program. Extensions would go into effect on January 1, 2020 on the following stream sections: (1) Chest Creek, Section 03, Cambria County, Ridge Avenue downstream to Thomas Mill Road; (2) First Fork Sinnemahoning Creek, Section 04, Potter County, Rt 872 bridge at Schoolhouse Run downstream to Berge Run; (3) Kinzua Creek, Section 04, McKean County, Guffey Road Bridge (Rocky Road) downstream to Westline Road bridge; (4) Loyalsock Creek, Section 05, Lycoming and Sullivan counties, 1.0-mile upstream Sullivan County line downstream to unnamed tributary located 0.9-mile upstream of Plunketts Creek; (5) Lycoming Creek, Section 04, Lycoming County, 0.5-mile upstream Daugherty Run downstream to 0.1-mile downstream of the SR 0015 bridge (Old Route 15) near Haleeka; (6) McMichael Creek, Section 05, Monroe County, 0.13 km downstream from the Turkey Hill Road (T-416) Bridge downstream to Glenbrook Road (SR 2004) Bridge; (7) Middle Creek, Section 04, Snyder County, 0.3-mile upstream of Pine Swamp Road downstream to Covered Bridge Road; (8) Pine Creek, Section 06, Tioga County, Marsh Creek downstream to Bear Run; (9) Little Pine Creek, Section 04, Lycoming County, Little Pine Creek Road bridge located 1.0-mile upstream Otter Run downstream to inflow of Little Pine Lake (not a Keystone Select Stocked Trout Water).
The Board voted to authorize the Executive Director to enter into a three-year agreement with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) for the collection of American Shad eggs from the Potomac River during the spring spawning runs of 2020, 2021 and 2022. Since 2006, the Commission has maintained Memoranda of Agreement with FWS for the collection of fertilized American Shad eggs from the Potomac River for use in American Shad restoration efforts in the Susquehanna River.
The Board approved future regular meetings of the Commission to occur on January 27-28, 2020; April 27-28, 2020; July 20-21, 2020; and October 19-20, 2020. The January and July 2020 meetings will be held at the Harrisburg Headquarters located at 1601 Elmerton Avenue, Harrisburg PA 17110. The April and October meetings will be held at locations still to be determined by the Commission.