October 3, 2008

Open House Planned to Address Dam Removal at Bendigo State Park


Contact: Terry Brady of the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, +1-717-772-9101

HARRISBURG, Pa.,Oct. 3/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --Public comment on the proposed removal of the Bendigo Dam at Bendigo State Park will be sought at an open house, Oct. 16, in Johnsonburg, Elk County.

Proposed by the Bureau of State Parks and supported by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, the project would remove an existing portion of the damaged dam across the East Branch of the Clarion River, and implement a fish habitat improvement project along the waterway.

The open house will be held at 6 p.m. at the Johnsonburg Senior Center, 430 Center St.

"Already partially breached, the dam would be removed to restore the river's natural, flow, and allow boater passage and unobstructed fish migration," said Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Michael DiBerardinis. "The project's second phase would include a cooperative effort with the Fish and Boat Commission to place fish-enhancement structures along the waterway."

Constructed of stone by Works Progress Administration crews in the late 1930s, the Bendigo State Park dam was damaged years ago by high water and now is plagued by silt buildup. The 5-foot-high structure has been viewed as an impediment to migration of trout and other fish.

"Maintenance of the damaged structure has become increasingly costly, and public safety has become an issue," DiBerardinis said. "Allowing this section of the river to flow freely through the park would enhance area canoeing and kayaking, while curtailing sediment build-up and improving habitat for trout and other aquatic species."

The dam creates about a one-acre back-up of water and originally was built to provide a swimming area and beach for park visitors. Neither is used now, as Bendigo offers visitors an in-ground swimming pool.

Wild brook trout populations are found in Crooked Creek and Middle Fork Creek, both tributaries flowing into the East Branch above the dam, according to the Fish and Boat Commission.

Besides hosting the open house, the park also will be accepting public comments by phone or in writing until Nov. 18. A decision will follow the public comment period, and any work at the dam is unlikely before late 2009.

"We're hoping for a strong turnout of local residents and park visitors, as their comments will help shape exactly where we go from here," said Bendigo State Park Manager Jason Zimmerman. "Open house attendees are urged to visit displays focusing on the dam, the Clarion River, and its fishery and recreational potential. Park and Fish and Boat personnel will be on hand to answer questions."

Written comments, postmarked no later than Nov. 15, should be sent to Bendigo State Park, 533 State Park Road, Johnsonburg, PA 15845-0016.

For more information on Bendigo State Park and Pennsylvania's other 116 state parks, visit www.dcnr.state.pa.us(select "State Parks").


Terry Brady

(717) 772-9101

SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

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