Elk County Waterways Conservation Officer Thomas McMann presented the annual report from the PA Fish and Boat Commission for District 5046 during a recent community affairs meeting at the East Branch Clarion River Lake.
The report cites various statistics, activities and accomplishments within the district and covers activities conducted by the assigned Waterways Conservation Officer (WCO).
"Elk County is a remote and diversified district," McMann said. "Being the only Waterways Conservation Officer in the county, I have many people to thank for their help."
McMann noted that due to high fuel costs and bad economic times, there was less construction with fewer complaints of encroachments or excavating equipment in or near streams or wetlands.
The WCO conducts law enforcement work as well as general patrols throughout Elk County, specifically focusing on patrols on Fish and Boat Commission property and cooperative landowner property. The WCO also has full police powers.
Violations in 2010 were citations for 19 fish and boat prosecutions, which are down from last year. McMann attributed this to the inclement weather. There were also two crimes code violations, one for disorderly conduct and one for DUI.
Of the 19 citations, 18 pled guilty. One hearing was held at the District Judge level, in which the defendant was found guilty.
There were 41 fish code warnings and 65 boat code warnings issued for minor infractions.
"There was a huge increase on the Clarion River. We are seeing a lot of canoes and kayaks," McMann said. "This is attributed to the ANF (Allegheny National Forest) pushing tourism. We are also seeing more littering and people camping where they are not supposed to be."
McMann presented information about area trout stocking,
"Trout stocking is very consuming," McMann said. "Without numerous volunteers that help in assisting with this activity, it could not be carried out effectively."
The amount of trout stocked in Elk County was 66,300 in 24 different stream or lakes. Another 48,500 fingerling trout were stocked in the Clarion River and different species of fingerling fish were stocked in the East Branch Dam.
Last year McMann investigated two stream disturbances and two pollutions. One of the disturbances was immediately corrected by the landowner. In the second disturbance, an individual was cited and stream restoration work was completed One of the two pollutions was an oil spill which occurred inside the Allegheny National Forest in July and consisted of 86 gallons of spillage. The second occurred on a Marcellus Shale drilling site located on Boone Mountain in which sediment ran into Rattlesnake Run. The state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) also cited the involved party.
McMann noted that pollutions were down from last year.