Major concerns focused on the timeline’s variability beyond the PFBC’s control, depending instead on the Department of General Services, responsible for finding a contracting firm to design construction plans, and eventually DEP approvals.
“The largest hurdle is funding, and that’s OK,” said Roae. “From here, the big thing is doing everything we can to keep the project on track. There are a lot of steps, and if permits sit around too long, some steps will be held up by the ones prior.”
Roae understands the project may seem endless to the public, but believes in a four-to-five-year completion, a timeline with which the PFBC has made significant progress on other state lake restorations, including Possum Lake in Cumberland County, roughly in its third year of rehabilitation.
Engineering complexities, including the double set of specifications required to repair two different dams, could lengthen the process, said Barner.
After the Tamarack project’s completion, he continued, the lake may take several months to safely refill.
The Friends of Tamarack Lake voiced concerns regarding habitat maintenance and the fish-based ecosystem once construction is finished and the lake reaches proper levels.
“Everyone’s working together to have Tamarack Lake back for everyone to enjoy,” said Melissa Fuller, Friends of Tamarack representative.
Since grant funding only covers the dam restorations, according to Barner, additional projects like reservoir habitat maintenance, potential sediment removal and vegetation removal will require more funding, most likely on the local level.
“These issues occur around every dam,” said Barner. “Groups like the Friends of Tamarack have made a successful support structure for other lake restorations.”
Barner believes sediment removal is optional depending on the lake’s post-refill status; and vegetation, including tree and brush growths, should be cleared to certain footage in setback areas including dams and boat launching locations.
Subsequent projects require community funding, but can be executed without state permits, Barner said. Complete dredging can be extremely expensive, and the PFBC’s fishing license sales and boat registration revenues don’t cover projects of that magnitude, he added.
The fish population must be re-established in stages to allow larger fish like walleye and crappie to survive on a food base of smaller fish, according to DeMario, who said fishery biologists will handle this aspect of the lake structure.