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Lehigh County's Leaser Lake Ready
to be Refilled and Reopened to Public

HARRISBURG, Pa. – A long-term construction project to rebuild the dam and spillway at Lehigh County’s Leaser Lake received the final stamp of approval this week from state regulators, just in time for the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) to refill the lake and reopen it to the public for the 2013 regional opening day of trout.

“This is great news for all the anglers, boaters and outdoor enthusiasts who use the lake and have been waiting patiently for the project to be completed,” said PFBC Executive Director John Arway. “Rebuilding a dam is a big project which requires cooperation between state agencies, local officials and the public.”

“We will start refilling the lake in mid-December, with the goal of being able to stock the lake with adult trout in time for the regional opening day of trout, which is Saturday, March 30,” Arway added.

The 117-acre lake – near New Tripoli – was drained in 2008-09 in advance of the dam and spillway construction project. The lake is owned by the Commonwealth and managed by the PFBC. The $3.5 million project began in fall 2010 and was completed this past June. The state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) this week gave final approval to the PFBC’s plan to refill the lake.

"It's a great day for the residents of Lehigh County," said William H. Hansell, Lehigh County Executive. "Filling Leaser Lake with water marks the beginning of decades more of active use of this important local natural treasure." The county contributed $500,000 to the project.

The process of refilling a lake involves continuous monitoring and takes numerous months to complete, depending on the amount of rainfall. The earthen dam needs time to properly and safely absorb the water. PFBC engineers will raise the water level two feet per week and will inspect and monitor the dam until the lake is completely filled.

PFBC staff will monitor the water level and expect to know by late February whether they will be able to stock the lake with adult trout, said Dave Miko, chief of the PFBC Division of Fisheries Management.

“The long-term plan is to stock the lake with fingerlings from various warm-water species, like bass, crappie, blue gills and yellow perch, and allow those fish to grow over the next several years into a sustainable fishery,” he said. “The short-term plan is to stock adult trout in the lake this spring so anglers can get back on the water and enjoy their sport. As long as the lake is about half-full, and anglers can safely access the water, we’ll stock trout for the opener.”

The funding to repair the Leaser Lake facility came from several sources, including $1.45 million through the state’s capital budget; $500,000 from Lehigh County; $750,000 from the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ Community Conservation Partnerships program; and $500,000 from DEP’s and $300,000 from the PFBC’s Growing Greener II programs.

Leaser Lake was built by the PFBC in 1971 to provide access to water-oriented recreation. The lake and surrounding state and county land cover approximately 536 acres, with public areas leased and operated by Lehigh County. The lake features two separate boat ramps and free parking.

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