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Watershed Association keeps close watch on area streams

By Staff | Apr 26, 2017

Ashley West a member of the Muncy Creek Watershed Association and the Consolidated Sportsmen points out the updated water jack at Laurel Run stream in Picture Rocks.

PICTURE ROCKS – Local streams in the eastern part of Lycoming County are kept on close watch to stay healthy and classified as an “exceptional value” according to standards set by the Department of Environmental Protection. Those watchers are a team of valuable volunteers from the Muncy Creek Watershed Association and the Muncy Creek Consolidated Sportsmen.

On Thursday, April 13 the public was invited to take a tour with some of the members on two projects that keep them busy all year long.

The first one is at Laurel Run located at Van Rensselaer Park near the Ferrell Elementary School. Working with the Lycoming County Conservation District, new wing walls made of hemlock logs known as “water jacks” were installed to prevent further erosion and flooding. Help came from the Picture Rocks Borough who donated some equipment and manpower to help reinforce the stream bed according to Ashley West of the Watershed Association. Carey Entz-Rine, a watershed specialist with the conservation district said the county also assisted with workers from the release center on County Farm Road.

“There were 4 to 5 organizations working together,” said Chalmer VanHorn, another member of the association.

Pointing to the park and stream, West said, “Around 1918 and 1919 this used to be a park, dance hall and recreation center.” According to his ancestors, it was warm to swim in and always, “there was some kind of jack dam here.” Fire companies and neighboring factories depended on Laurel Run for water and power. “It never dries up,” he added.

Four types of trout are raised at the Bob King fishing hatchery in Shrewsbury Township as demonstrated by Chalmer VanHorn, one of the volunteers who helps to maintain the nursery.

Swimming was always popular the fire company still uses the stream to fill their tankers. “The borough wants to keep the features,” West said. Corey Richmond from DEP said the stream is exceptional value, the highest it can be. “It is very healthy for aquatic lifefilled with trout and macro invertebrates.

Lewis Lumber donated the wood for the updated dam project and everything is ready for the fishing derby on May 7 at the park announced Dayl McClintock, President of Muncy Creek Consolidated Sportsmen. “Last year 170 kids showed up,” he said. One thousand trout will be ready with a limit of three per child. “We stock the trout here at Laurel Run, about 300 per season.” On the morning of April 17 at 8:30 a.m., they stocked the stream.

The second project that the sportsmen have nourished is the fishing hatchery in Shrewsbury Township. Named after Bob King from the Lycoming County League of Sportsmen, the nursery is placed over Roaring Run. It needs upkeep all year long to keep out predators according to McClintock who regularly keeps a close watch over the project.

Some members took a tour of the hatchery which is a consolidated effort with the Fish and Boat Commission. “We raise about a million trout a year around the area,” McClintock said out of a total of 4 million a year in Pennsylvania. “This is an average size co-op.” This nursery has been here for the past 21 years where about 12,000 trout are raised per year.

The Consolidated Sportsmen have been in existence for 55 years. “We used to have an open pond at Nordmont, run by John Peterman, Sr.,” McClintock said.

It is a stream fed nursery that has its challenges. It can dry up in the summer and there are icing problems in winter. “Five to six years ago, we put in a well and that solved 90 percent of our problems.”

It was built in three sections at 50 feet each for a length of 150 feet. The land is owned by David and Ruth Ann Sprout who, in turn, lease it to the Consolidated Sportsmen.

At the beginning of each June, 9,000 fingerlings of brown, brook and rainbow trout are placed inside the hatchery. It is powered by electricity and backed up with a generator. About 16 active members alternate turns feeding pellets of catfish and salmon to the trout that can grow to over 30 inches.

Another nursery the members maintain is the Faus Nursery in Wolf Township and that was stocked on Friday morning, 8 a.m. on April 21.

By the weekend of May 12 and 13, everything will be well stocked, they said.