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Saw Creek Kriss Pines Situation

Joined:
2010/6/26 11:19
From Along the Lehigh Above the Gap
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Here is an article being run in the Morning Call. I am kinda torn between the two opinions. I for one love the Lehigh and the big water fishing that it presents. I also love wild fish and the creeks they inhabit. I understand the points on both sides of this argument.





Cressleys hope to reopen Kriss Pines hatchery as Firefly
Local couple is meeting resistance from Pa. DEP, Fish and Boat Commission.


Gary Blockus
11:21 p.m. EST, December 24, 2012

Kirk Cressley pointed with dismay to the 14 nearly 100-foot long empty fish pools that he cleaned out by hand shovel and wheelbarrow, a project that took a year to accomplish.

After he and his wife, Denise, bought the former Kriss Pines Trout Hatchery in the Walksville section of rural Lehighton in 2011, Cressley figured he would have the facility up and running by now. Especially after Scott Christman, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission's (PFBC) Waterways Conservation Officer for Carbon County, introduced Cressley to the Lehigh River Stocking Association (LSRA), which offered to help the couple with the raising and releasing of trout for five years, until the Cressleys could get a good handle on the project.

The Cressleys renamed the facility that runs along Sawmill Run, near its confluence with Berry Run and the Pohopoco Creek, calling it Firefly Trout Hatchery. They planned to fill the 14 pools with approximately 50,000 trout. The LRSA was going to use the majority of those trout to supplement its legal-size trout stocking of the Lehigh River in Carbon County.


But instead of now having full fish pools with which to begin trout propagation, the Cressleys have hit an environmental logjam that's going to require a lot of money to leap over; either that or political pressure.


To understand the issue, let's start at the beginning.

The PFBC only stocks fingerling trout, not legal-size trout, in the Lehigh River. The LRSA has been stocking about 12,000 legal-size trout in the river in Carbon and Lehigh counties for more than a decade. According to the LRSA's Matt MacConnell, the group was hoping to raise trout for pennies on the dollar at Firefly and use about 12,000 of the fish to stock the Carbon County portion of the river, and use the normal funds to continue stocking the Lehigh County section.

"I had written a letter to [PFBC executive director John Arway] last January reminding him of the stocking we've been doing on the Lehigh River," MacConnell said. "I was requesting that Fish and Boat [PFBC] fund a way to help us sustain the fishery. With limited resources, we have been carrying the stocking for a fishery that is undeniably productive."

MacConnell explained that Arway wrote back and offered to conduct a feasibility study of the state stocking trout on the Carbon County portion of the river, but not in Lehigh County. Arway knew that the Cressleys were looking to reopen the old Kriss Pines, which is more than 100 years old and at one time was the largest trout hatchery on the East Coast, and thought that perhaps LRSA would be interested in establishing a co-op nursery with the Cressleys. The PFBC said that if the LRSA could get a letter of agreement with the Cressleys, the PFBC would help with supplies.

The agreement was struck, legal papers were signed for the LRSA and Cressleys to do the project as a co-op nursery for five years, and then figurative logs started piling up.

During a routine site inspection of Sawmill Run, the PFBC found brown trout of such size that they were classified as native or wild brown trout, which means the trout were able to propagate on their own. Because of their presence and the quality of water, as determined by Department of Environment tests in 2004 and this year based on testing and invertebrate life, Sawmill Run is in the process of being declared a Class A stream.

While that may sound like tremendous news for Mother Nature, it is most unwelcome news for the Cressleys. The LRSA isn't pleased either.

Because of the stream's high quality status, any effluent, or waste drainage from the hatchery, must be treated before it flows into Sawmill Run, and the budget for such a system to remove the solid waste — mostly fish fecal matter and remnant food — isn't a cost the Cressleys figured on in their business model. The other option, running a drainage pipe into the Pohopoco, which has no such designation, is also cost prohibitive.

The Cresselys, MacConnell and others point out that brown trout are not native to Pennsylvania, and their presence in Sawmill Run is only because they escaped from the hatchery at some point and ended up reproducing in the wild.

State representative Doyle Heffley (R-122) has stepped in offering his services as a go-between with PFBC. He has already held a meeting with PFBC officials and plans to hold more. In addition, the reclassification of Sawmill Run is expected to be voted on by the PFBC board of commissioners during its quarterly meeting in April 2013.

"I think reopening Kriss Pines, or Firefly, is a win-win for everyone," Heffley said. "It's a good idea for the Lehigh River Stocking Association because it will help them put more trout in the river. It's a good idea for the owners because it will help them establish the business. It's good for the economy because it will provide tourism and eventually jobs."

Heffley is against reclassification of Sawmill Run because of the runoff from the Northeast Extension of the Pennsylvania Turnpike on one side and the heavily traveled Fairyland Land Road.

Plus, he feels that because the hatchery had been in operation for more than 100 years before the recent shutdown, it should be grandfathered into an exception to the DEP requirements.

DEP seems intent on holding fast to its standards, however. In an email response to questions posed by The Morning Call, DEP responded, "The facility must reapply for a new permit and satisfy the requirements of our anti-degradation policy."

Grandfathering the hatchery isn't an option, according to the DEP, because "once a discharge ceases [and the permit closes], there is no opportunity for grandfathering."

Heffley blames the current standoff on environmental activists pushing too quickly for anti-pollution laws aimed at industry and drilling, and says that now those same laws are coming back to bite something that would benefit nature and outdoor enjoyment.

"It's a good example of over-regulation," Heffley said. "People want to do the right things without understanding the full meaning of how these regulations change things."

Heffley is looking to gather public comment on the situation, and is asking people in favor of Firefly opening for business to write letters to his office. He plans on using those letters to hopefully wield some influence with PFBC.

Otherwise, a piece of history that began more than a century ago could be lost forever.

gary.blockus@mcall.com

610-820-6782

Posted on: 2012/12/26 12:13
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Re: Saw Creek Kriss Pines Situation
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Good article Shane - thanks for the heads-up.

I too agree that, as an impartial observer, this is a tough, ethical dilemma. I'm not sure about the anti-drilling angle, although it's plausible. I can say, back in the 1990s, there was a good bit of new research on the negative impacts of trout hatchery effluent and this along with just generally newer attitudes about environmental protection have cast a shadow over coop trout hatcheries in PA. DEP is to be commended (of course) for striving to uphold the protection laws applicable to newly designated HQCF streams. Personally, just speaking for myself, I'd favor some sort of compromise in this case that would enable them to jump start the hatchery.
How far would the pipe to the Po have to run?

Posted on: 2012/12/26 12:59

Edited by Fishidiot on 2012/12/26 14:44:19


Re: Saw Creek Kriss Pines Situation

Joined:
2010/6/26 11:19
From Along the Lehigh Above the Gap
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I am not to sure, but this is another dilemma for me, because of the Po. I love that stream as much as the Lehigh and do not favor all of that fish waste going into it. Wish there was some type of funds that would help the business create the type of treatment they would need to treat the waste. I definitely do not want all of it running into Saw-Po-Lehigh. I know I have heard from others, that they would not be raising a huge amount of trout compared to what it can hold. Does not make me feel any better about the situation.

Posted on: 2012/12/26 13:10
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Re: Saw Creek Kriss Pines Situation

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2009/2/11 13:14
From Lehigh Valley
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Shane,
I wonder if there isn't some sort of newer Sewage treatment technology{green} method that will treat the effluent that could be used that would benefit the hatchery and at the same time also benefit the Po?

It would be a win win for both the hatchery and the Po..no? Also could help the state hatcheries too.

Thank you for the article Shane.

Posted on: 2012/12/26 14:16


Re: Saw Creek Kriss Pines Situation

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A very unfortunate situation (for the owners & LRSA) that I hope can be resolved via some sort of compromise. Sounds like one helluva piece of property too.

Posted on: 2012/12/26 15:07


Re: Saw Creek Kriss Pines Situation
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Sounds like the solution is expensive. The more fish, the more solid waste. Dilute or filter, both limits on the "production" of the facility. I hope they find the right solution so these folks can make something of their property along the lines of how it was designed. That whole "grandfathered" issue ought to be explored, imo.

Posted on: 2012/12/26 15:21
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Re: Saw Creek Kriss Pines Situation

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2006/12/28 18:12
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No way should the hatchery reopen,I fish Sawmill at least once a month.Yes there are plenty of non native browns,there are also plenty of native brookies.If I catch a snakehead it is illegal for me to return it to the water.So how does stocking non native browns and rainbows make a stream better?Sawmill is great stream that doesn't need pollution being dumped into it.I don't understand how any trout fisherman would be in favor of stocking in the first place.Stocking is nothing more than a band-aid.Is it not illegal to introduce non native species into our waterways.I guess breaking the law is ok if your the PFBC and you need to sell licenses.Resource First,since when?Sorry if my view seems harsh,but I'm tired of seeing hatchery trash being stocked in wild trout streams.The only trout native PA are brook and lake trout,conservation and restoration is what's needed and stocking is neither.Here's a few pics of Sawmill I took a couple weeks ago.

Attach file:



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jpg  SAM_0678.JPG (182.61 KB)
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Posted on: 2012/12/26 15:29


Re: Saw Creek Kriss Pines Situation
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Is it not illegal to introduce non native species into our waterways.I guess breaking the law is ok if your the PFBC and you need to sell licenses.Resource First,since when?

In PA, it is perfectly legal to stock any brook, brown, rainbow and golden rainbow (may also albino) and tiger trout into any waterway not designated as Class A, Wilderness Trout or waterways "managed for wild trout."

National Parks may be an exception.

Posted on: 2012/12/26 15:36
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Re: Saw Creek Kriss Pines Situation

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2012/10/24 19:22
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I don't think they should mess with a wild reproducing stock.

Perhaps the state could grant firefly funds to filter the waste and have firefly stock elswhere with its blessing.

IMHO hatchery waste shouldn't enter a watershed anywhere - dig a sealed pond with reed beds to filter it and the water recycled for hatchery use.


Posted on: 2012/12/26 15:43
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Re: Saw Creek Kriss Pines Situation

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Do people read? The fish won't be stocked into Saw Mill? Unless you are saying the fish will escape? If that is the case, fish can move from the LR into the Po and into Saw Mill.

Posted on: 2012/12/26 15:48


Re: Saw Creek Kriss Pines Situation

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Fish fecal matter doesn't sound horrible in a moving waterway , especially compared to what has and is still being dumped into that watershed over the years.

Posted on: 2012/12/26 15:52


Re: Saw Creek Kriss Pines Situation
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Quote:

vcregular wrote:
Do people read? The fish won't be stocked into Saw Mill? Unless you are saying the fish will escape? If that is the case, fish can move from the LR into the Po and into Saw Mill.


That may have been the point, i.e., there is already bleedback of browns and he isn't interested in seeing even more species mixing in, even if only through the same process that brought the browns there.

Posted on: 2012/12/26 15:55
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Re: Saw Creek Kriss Pines Situation

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There is nothing more important than protecting the watersheds in this situation. You can raise more fish in the hatchery, but if they end up polluting the watersheds as a result it defeats the purpose.

If there is no suitable way to treat the waste or somehow convert the waste to a usable fertilizer that can be shipped off-site, then they should not be allowed to operate the hatchery.

Posted on: 2012/12/26 16:09


Re: Saw Creek Kriss Pines Situation

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From Along the Lehigh Above the Gap
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I dont think I am worried about the species of fish being introduced into Saw. First those browns in there more then likely came from the Po or the hatchery. What species of fish are you worried about? Rainbows? Stocked in the Po. Goldens? Stocked in the Po. Different type of Brookie? Stocked in the Po. Not like the state is going to stop stocking those fish.

I am worried about the waste of the fish degrading Saw,Po, and Lehigh.

Posted on: 2012/12/26 16:47
_________________
"Four of us wolves, running around the desert together, in Las Vegas, looking for strippers and cocaine. So tonight, I make a toast!"

http://bugflingerandfeatherlasher.blogspot.com/



Re: Saw Creek Kriss Pines Situation

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Unfortunately it seems the hatchery owners didn't do their homework. Just because the waste was historically dumped in the creek does not mean it can continue. As my Mom always said, you gotta do your homework.

Posted on: 2012/12/26 16:49



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