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Thread: Eastern Pa Pilots, Any chance we can look at possible lake openings?

  1. #1
    SPA MEMBER
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    Oct 2011
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    SW Florida and NE PA
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    Eastern Pa Pilots, Any chance we can look at possible lake openings?

    I was just wondering has any tried to speak to PA Fish and wildlife, or other agencies regarding lake usage. I spoke to a SPA member for the area however he said he's no longer active in the area because of health issues. Anyone taking his place? Is there a way we can move foreword and try to open some lakes?

  2. #2
    SPA MEMBER
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    Jul 2010
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    All navigable waters in Pennsylvania are OPEN (some with restrictions) which include: Lake Erie, Presque Isle Bay, Allegheny River, Ohio River, Susquehana River and LOWER Delaware River.
    As you may know most of the natural lakes and impoundments in Pennsylvania are controlled by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC), are CLOSED, and are surrounded by or abutted by a State Park (DCNR), State Forest Land (DCNR), State Game Lands (PGC) or the Allegheny National Forest ANF - USFS). All 3 Pa. State Departments prohibit sea plane ops on their controlled lakes. Many of these small lakes have a NO motorized limitation including watercraft or a limited HP (5 or 25 max) limitation. In addition the upper reaches of the Delaware River are CLOSED in the Delaware Water Gap Recreation Area from Slatford to Mashipacong Island, and from Port Jervis to Point Mountain.
    There are some lakes controlled by the Army Corp. of Engineers (ACE) or other power companies and most of these are closed also. It may be futile and fruitless to try and open these small lakes especially those that have motorized or horse power limitations already in place. However there are some exceptions and some lakes have been opened or historically have always been OPEN:
    1. Youghigheny River Lake -ACE
    2. Lake Wallenpaupack - Pa. Power & Light
    3. Raystown Lake - ACE. It should be noted that Raystown was previously CLOSED but opened with petition to the ACE. There is State Park land abutting part of the lake and there was a 1 or 2 year probationary period when it was first opened up BUT the DCNR soon realized there was no problem with SP ops. I mention this, as now the DCNR has a positive experience which can be used as a precident.
    4. Allegheny Reservoir - ACE. Abutted by ANF and State Game lands. NOTE: CLOSED North of PA./NY state line.
    5. Presque Isle Bay - US Coast Guard. As a navigable water way Presque Isle Bay has always been OPEN but not well publisized or used. It is bordered on the south by the City of Erie and Millcreek Township and on the north by the 3500 acre penninsula of Presque Isle State Park. This forms the natural harbor at Erie. It should be noted that the interior waters and lagoons in the State Park are CLOSED and a 500' buffer (NO TO or Landing) exsists. However the State Park, (after petitioning)* now allows taxi to the Marina boat dock for refueling, other boat docks and ramps and NON-SWIMMING beaches. Some day I hope to establish a base on the south shore but land is at a premium and costly.
    6. Edinboro Lake - Washington Township. historically OPEN but not publisized.
    7. Conneaut Lake- ?. Historically OPEN but not recently verified nor publisized.
    8. Various ther small privately owned lakes with prior permission.

    I will work on getting the Edinboro and Conneaut Lake data included in the Water Flying Directory.

    One lake that is now and always has been CLOSED is Pymatuning Reservoir; Most of which lies within Pennsylvania but some waters are in Ohio. It is large enough to safely accomodate seaplanes but it abuts State Game lands, and has a 25 HP limitation. The real problem is the authority is jointly shared with Ohio, which is notoriously unfriendly. I am not sure whether the Pa. controlling partner is the PBFC or the ACE.

    If there is a lake that you think is amenable to seaplane ops you should always check with the owner or controlling authority first. If CLOSED you (we) can always petition to have it opened. It has been done in the past as in the case of Raystown Lake. It is however often very hard to overcome a historically CLOSED waterway due to beaurocratic innactivity and unfounded precieved safety, noise and ecological concerns. For example the PFBC only wants to deal with boats and fish and thinks seaplanes would just be a headache to them. They just don't want to deal with us. Most of our efforts are geared to KEEP exsisting ops areas OPEN.

    There is an exsisting Pennsylvania District SPA representative. I think he is in the Philly area. IF this is the person you spoke to and is no longer interested or capable in the position please let me know. I'd be happy to assume the duties.

    *In the late 60's and early 70's the Presque Isle State Park Police attempted to and were issuing citations to sea plane pilots who overflew the SP and even those who landed in Lake Erie (an OPEN navigable waterway). Some citations were successful some not. Later the DCNR disbanded the Police and established a more sensitive Ranger force. I talked with them in the '80's but the answer was still "NO. NO WAY a seaplane is going to land in a SP!" Later the petition to OPEN Raystown was successful. In the meantime the local citizens demanded more local input to the operation of the State Park as Harrisburg was unresponsive to many local needs and established a local volunteer Presque Isle State Park Advisory Board. The DCNR thru local political pressure had to finally listen to the local advisoy board. I wrote a petition to the Advisory Board in the mid '90's, citing the Raystown experience and precident and to my state representatives, asking to at least open up taxi ops to the SP from Presque Isle Bay and Lake Erie. They never notified me of the outcome. Finally in 2000 I got a call from one of the rangers saying they revised the rules for access to Presque Isle State Park and I could taxi in. The process took 40 years and only after the local advisory board was established....otherwise my petition(s) were falling on deaf DCNR ears. It helped that I had a close friend on the Advisory Board. That's what your up against.
    Last edited by DJWorm; 02-25-2013 at 11:27 PM.

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