EAST FAIRFIELD TOWNSHIP —
“Fire in the hole!,” yelled a bomb squad officer.
A few seconds later came one loud — very loud — boom from the southernmost shore of Tamarack Lake.
Explosives experts from Erie-area police departments, Pennsylvania State Police and deputies of the Crawford County Sheriff’s Department were among those called to that East Fairfield Township location Friday morning after workers with the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission discovered a live grenade in the drawn-down, shallow waters of Tamarack Lake. The PFBC recently drew the lake’s water level down another 5 feet as it works to define and address deficiencies in the lake’s northern dam, and the grenade was discovered Friday as staff were at the southern dam area working to relocate some living fish to other nearby bodies of water while removing what are expected to amount to thousands of dead and dying fish. Those fish are being buried in wooded state property near the lake.
With the lake’s facilities having recently been closed in response to the drawdown and related ongoing work, the public and media weren’t allowed any type of close access to the brief grenade detonation activity Friday. Explosives experts and other law enforcement personnel at the scene weren’t available for comment, but regional PFBC spokesperson Keith Edwards confirmed a previously undetonated hand grenade was discovered in the waters during the morning.
“They saw it lying there” in the water — which currently reportedly stands at between 3 and 5 feet in the basin’s pooled areas — and “obviously, called the police immediately to get rid of it,” said Edwards, adding “that was a bit of a surprise” for the PFBC staff as they worked to remove fish from the drawn-down lake.
“We’ve been trying to get as many live fish as we can” out of the water and relocated to other waterways close by, said Edwards, while others that are dead or determined to be under too much stress to survive transport are being taken out of the water and, using heavy equipment, trucked into a wooded area and being buried.
The numbers of live and dead fish being removed from the lake “have not even been tallied” at this point as the work continues, said Edwards, but PFBC officials recently said it’s expected that thousands of fish will die there in coming weeks because of low water levels, low oxygen levels and high temperatures in the remaining water.
Normally between 13 and 15 feet deep, Tamarack first was drawn down approximately 5 feet in November 2011 after Fish and Boat Commission officials observed water seeping through the dam and from underneath its outlet at that time. When completed, the most recent drawdown is leaving parts of the lake’s 562-acre basin muddy or dried up.
Removing and burying the fish on state land nearby was taken as the chosen measure in response to that effort because “it’s mostly a public health and safety issue,” said Edwards. “If we leave them to float,” he said, “it would be a stinking mess.”
The commission’s deputy director recently forecasted a four- to five-year timeline to complete necessary upgrades to both the lake’s southern and northern dams — a project that could be in the millions or tens of millions of dollars.
Addressing the problem is “all a matter of money,” said Edwards. And “it’s not an easy task.”
The commission has indicated it will seek money from the state Commonwealth Financing Authority through the H20 PA Act, which provides grants for flood control projects, to rebuild and upgrade the lake’s two dams. The letter also indicated that the state Department of Environmental Protection has classified Tamarack as a flood control facility and that both of its dams must be upgraded to meet current standards.
With stated support from a variety of local and county officials, Friends of Tamarack Lake — a group of lakeshore residents and others who use the lake for recreation — has also been very active lobbying local and state officials to repair the dam and refill the lake, which has several public access points and is a popular fishing and boating site.
Tamarack Lake was built in the early 1960s. The lake also is used for fire protection and recreation while the lake and its environs are used for wildlife habitat.
Located southeast of Meadville, its reservoir covers 562 acres in West Mead, East Mead and East Fairfield townships.
EAST FAIRFIELD TOWNSHIP —
“Fire in the hole!,” yelled a bomb squad officer.
Custaloga Town French and Indian War Encampment set to take you back in time this weekend
Coordinators of the ninth annual Custaloga Town French and Indian War Encampment believe this year’s event will have all the historical thrill of its predecessors and more with the addition of an exciting new feature — visitation from members of the New York-based Seneca Nation of Indians.
Volunteers set to boost Pymatuning fish habitat today; and your outdoors briefs for the week starting June 11
The Pymatuning Lake Association seeks able-bodied volunteers to help with the construction of “cribs” today.
Pymatuning State Park looks to give you more room to enjoy the great outdoors
Pymatuning State Park may grow by 18 acres under a plan made public Tuesday at the Crawford County Board of Commissioners’ meeting.
Mastering the art of the call is essential to turkey season success
Do you think that calling wild turkeys into shotgun range is some sort of art form that can never be yours?
Or do you see yourself as a master caller, a being with special powers sent from above, because you have been successful in the turkey woods the past few years?
Fishing-related family fun set for hatchery today
An annual family friendly, mostly free entertainment and education event is today.
Now that winter is nearly over, let's get ready for trout season
With another long and brutal winter hopefully pretty much behind us, many Pennsylvania anglers are already looking ahead to our state’s trout season opener. As in the past several years, opening day of trout season will vary by region. For trout anglers fishing in the eight-county Northwest region, opening day is April 12.
Here are outdoors news and activities notes for the week beginning Jan. 29
The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission is encouraging anglers to vote online by Friday for their favorite color for a new series of fishing license buttons that will be available beginning in March.
“The buttons for this first year will be in the color which receives the highest number of votes,” said PFBC Executive Director John Arway. “Brought back by popular demand, this custom button is similar to the buttons offered by the PFBC in the 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, and again in 1974 and 1975.
Each custom button will measure 1 3/4 inches (same as past, vintage buttons) with a high-quality pin-back design and feature the angler's customer identification number (CID), same as the number displayed on a paper license.
Anglers need to display only the button when fishing, as long as they are carrying a valid paper license. Go to https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/2014-PA-Fishing-License-Button to vote.
New optional youth fishing license goes on sale Saturday
A new voluntary $1 youth fishing license will generate revenue to fund programs to increase youth fishing participation.
Outdoors news briefs and events for the week starting Jan. 15
Democratic Pennsylvania U.S. Sen. Bob Casey has called for a public meeting to be held in Erie to discuss options for combating invasive Asian Carp.
New business group out to spread word about economic impact and benefits of hunting
I think that I’d be pretty safe in saying that hunting is a pretty popular pastime in Pennsylvania. Few people would dispute that. With nearly 1 million hunters heading afield each year in this state alone, it’s pretty easy to see a ripple effect between hunting expenditures and area economies.
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