DCNR buys access at Elk Creek

Expert Angler
  • Total Posts : 964
  • Reward points: 0
  • Joined: 2000/09/15 16:16:26
  • Status: offline
2008/02/06 22:12:04 (permalink)

DCNR buys access at Elk Creek

DCNR buys access at Elk Creek

By Deborah Weisberg
Southwest Correspondent
Erie, Pa. - In this city's red- hot waterfront real estate market, the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources has landed a cool deal.

Its offer to buy the popular Elk Creek access area on Lake Erie's largest steelhead stream from Girard Township for $400,000 was approved unanimously by the township's three supervisors Jan. 22. It is less than half the township's appraised value of $1,060,000.

The 81-acre parcel is sandwiched between Erie Bluffs State Park and a 49-acre parcel owned by the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission, and will become part of the 540-acre state park.

Although there are no contingencies in the sales agreement, Supervisor Sandy Anderson said the township will urge DCNR to move ahead with improvements to the property. “They talked about a better boat launch, about better access to the lake,” said Anderson. “We want to be sure these things happen.”

Anderson said the reason the township agreed to the sale was because it couldn't afford to make improvements and was spending $7,000 a year on maintenance, and even that was hard to keep up.

As angling pressure on steelhead streams mushroomed in recent years, porta-johns at the access area had become the butt of bad jokes about their neglected condition.

Prior to the agreement, DCNR spokesman Chris Novak outlined her agency's commitment to renovating the existing boat launch, as well as angler parking and toilet facilities, and creating better access to the lake. But she said construction of a safe harbor, which was discussed at a public meeting Jan. 15, was out of the agency's hands.

“That would involve the Fish & Boat Commission and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers,” Novak said.

Such a harbor would be the only one between Walnut Creek and Conneaut Creek, 17 miles away. Anderson said it was her hope multiple agencies could work together to make that happen. “Who knows?” she said. “Maybe DCNR will buy the Fish & Boat Commission's land.”

As it is now, though,****Mulfinger, the Fish & Boat Commission's head of engineering and property services, said a safe harbor at Elk Creek is out of the question.

“We had a (natural inventory) study done when we first acquired our property and 27 rare native plants were found on the land, similar to what you find on Presque Isle Bay. That's one thing,” Mulfinger said.

“Number two, there's a big sandbar across the mouth that's constantly shifting. According to a study we had done by an engineering firm 12 years ago, the cost, even back then, to stabilize the mouth was $12 million, plus another $250,000 a year just to maintain. The Fish & Boat Commission can't come up with that kind of money.”

Mulfinger said it is more likely the commission will make improvements to Walnut Creek's access channel, which has an ongoing problem with silt buildup and is obsolete for today's bigger boats. The commission is paying an engineering firm to study the feasibility and cost of redesigning the channel.

“It was designed 30 years ago to handle 19-foot boats with 6-foot beams,” said Mulfinger. “Today's boats are 4 feet longer and wider. People who aren't used to (the channel) wind up with damage to their propellers.”

Although the commission dredges the channel annually with a $300,000 machine it bought several years ago, Mulfinger said, “We'd like to create a more permanent solution.”

Dan Kelly, of Buckets Charters and president of the Port Erie Charter Captains Association, said he's eager to see a permanent improvement at Walnut Creek, too, and wonders “why all of the funding from the Lake Erie stamp seems to go toward easement purchases along steelhead streams. I'm not knocking the steelheaders, but boaters are paying for their creek access,” he said. “Some of that money should go to improvements for boaters.”

Charter captains, and recreational anglers and boaters make up a huge portion of Erie's economy, not just in summer but year-round, generating more than $5 million annually.

2 Replies Related Threads

    Pro Angler
    • Total Posts : 3032
    • Reward points: 0
    • Joined: 2005/06/30 17:39:29
    • Location: Valley of the Crazy Woman
    • Status: offline
    RE: DCNR buys access at Elk Creek 2008/02/06 22:59:29 (permalink)
    Get 'em Capt. Dan!!!!! Woohoo!

    Better too far back, than too far forward.
    Carpet Bagger
    Pro Angler
    • Total Posts : 1834
    • Reward points: 0
    • Joined: 2001/04/18 15:09:30
    • Location: Greenville, PA
    • Status: offline
    RE: DCNR buys access at Elk Creek 2008/02/07 09:13:29 (permalink)

    I never thought I'd say this, but I love my Sport-Craft!
    Jump to: