Lehigh Valley

Race on to save fish before Northampton County lake is drained

'Fish salvage' set for this week at Minsi Lake

UPPER MOUNT BETHEL TWP., Pa. - This week in Northampton County, the race is on to save as many fish as possible before Minsi Lake is drained for major dam repairs.

The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) said  the "fish salvage" will take place Monday and Tuesday at the recreational lake in Upper Mount Bethel Township.

The fish will be relocated to Brady's Lake and local ponds.

Commission officials said salvages usually save many of the fish, but some will die.

"We will collect as many fish as we can and move them to other lakes, but it is impossible to capture all of them," said Jason Detar, chief of the PFBC Division of Fisheries Management.. "Fish die during any drawdown and salvage effort. Some hide around structures where we simply can't reach them, and others become buried in the mud when they are slow to exit the lake with the remaining water. Anglers and the public should expect to see this."

Earlier this spring, several feet of water was released from the lake. Now crews are set to finish draining it.

The lake itself will be closed to public use immediately after the fish salvage. But the property around the lake will remain open to recreational use, such as walking and running.

Last year, Gov. Tom Wolf announced that he was releasing $25.7 million in capital budget funding
for the repair of five high-hazard, unsafe dams, including Minsi Lake, and the design of two other dams.

High-hazard, unsafe dams have deficiencies of such a nature that if not corrected and the dams were to fail, substantial property damage and a probable loss of human life could occur, according to the PFBC.

The construction project at the 117-acre Minsi Lake is expected to last through 2018 and cost approximately $3 million. The lake is expected to be refilled and open again for public use in spring 2019. Stocked trout angling should also return to Minsi Lake in 2019, according to the PFBC.

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