Updates presented at recent East Branch meeting

Representatives from several area state and local parks presented updates on their facilities and programs on Wednesday morning during the East Branch Clarion River Lake's spring public meeting.Topics focused on activities and issues which have occurred since the lake's fall 2010 meeting. In addition, a dam safety initiative currently being undertaken at the lake followed the partnership reports.Jeanne Wambaugh of Elk State Forest said the park has a new ranger, Tillman Smith, as well as a new oil and gas forester who arrived in October.Roads inside the park received severe damage from flooding and rain. Due to this, the park's Montour Road is currently closed.News signs and kiosks have been installed for recreational users.Wambaugh emphasized the park's new land acquisition, which consists of 8,000 acres received on Dec. 31. Seneca Resources owns the subsurface rights on the land."Well drilling is extensive. All the wells are active, both shallow and Marcellus," Wambaugh said. "Future gates will be going up due to safety with the new wells."She noted that there are more than 30 wells inside the park, and that number is increasing."They continue to build roads and new wells. All the new roads have been named and have signs," Wambaugh added.She said this information has been provided to Elk County Emergency Management's 911 Center.New public-use maps which include the newly acquired land are expected to be available in the summer. According to Wambaugh, the park is expected to own timber rights at various well sites. The park also holds wind rights. "We have to get regeneration of timber," Wambaugh said, noting that Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) has been doing a sufficient job at the task.She added those who enjoy four-wheeling, ATVing or snowmobile gathering should know that the park and the St. Marys Snowmobile Association have teamed over the past several years in maintaining trails and bridges. One of the trails travels up Northfork Road. She noted that DCNR has a right-of-way for public use at the Shawmut grade. Also in attendance at the meeting were Pete O'Connell, northern area manager for the Army Corps of Engineers; Elk County Commissioner Ron Beimel; Russ Braun, chairman of the Elk County Solid Waste Authority and zoning officer for the Wilcox area; and Mike McAllister of the Elk County 911 Center.