WCO Report for Erie County 01/26/2005: Erie area, PA,
WCO Report Posted: January 25, 2005

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Posted by DWCO Randy Leighton on January 25, 2005 at 18:07:04:

WEST ERIE COUNTY, DWCO Randy Leighton, WCO Brook Tolbert

Along with most of the Northeast part of the country, Erie has finally been able to dig out from the recent snowstorms that pounded the area. Cold temperatures continue to strengthen the already formed ice on most of the areas waters although much of the ice is still unstable and in some areas the ice is still relatively thin. Presque Isle Bay remains ice covered with reports on thickness from 4 to 5" in most areas. Some areas in the center of the Bay remain thin and there is still slush in some areas. Anglers are reminded that the heavy snow cover can make ice thickness deceiving and caution is still advised. Anglers coming off the Bay this past weekend reported moderate catches of perch although bluegills and smelt seemed to be plentiful. There were no complaints though; just being able to finally do a little hardwater fishing seemed to be enough to bring out the smiles.

Anglers continue to have reasonable success targeting steelhead through the ice at the Walnut Creek Basin and in the channel just outside the basin. Broken drift ice has built up along the Lake Erie shoreline. This ice is not solid or stable and should be considered unsafe. The Manchester hole although mostly ice covered, still has open water in the center. Fast flowing water under the ice in this area is a recipe for danger.

A number of anglers found good ice fishing at the Upper Gravel Pit pond in Fairview this past weekend bringing in a few nice perch and a a few leftover stockies. Shiners were the ticket. The Gravel Pit pond is somewhat sheltered from the high winds that often blow on Presque Isle Bay and can be a good place for those without a portable ice shanty. The Gravel pit, although not a large body of water, is quite deep.

Lake Erie water temperature as of this writing is 33 degrees. West County tribs are mostly ice covered.

Early Season Stocking Schedule for the Erie Area:
Anglers are advised that Extended Trout Season rules are in effect for these waters.

East Basin Pond on Presque Isle, the week of February 7th
Lake Pleasant, the week of February 21st
Upper Gravel Pit Pond in Fairview, the week of February 7th
West Basin Pond on Presque Isle, the week of February 7th

Important Reminder to Area Sportsmen Regarding The Erie Bluffs State Park:
Another reminder that an important public meeting to discuss the development of the Erie Bluffs State Park will be held Wednesday Evening January 26th. Hunters and Anglers are urged to attend this meeting to assure that their concerns are considered and addressed in the development of this lakeshore property.

HARRISBURG (January 20, 2005) — The state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) is seeking public comment on natural resource management and future development plans for Erie Bluffs State Park, Pennsylvania’s newest state park in Erie County.

The public planning session will be 7-9 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 26, at Girard High School, 1135 Lake St., Girard, Erie County.

“Public interest in this jewel of a land parcel on Lake Erie remains high, and we hope this fuels a strong turnout and active participation in the development of the park’s master plan,” said DCNR Secretary Michael DiBerardinis. “We want public comment on the future of Erie Bluffs and opinions on what development might look like.”

The park’s history, vast natural resources and recreational potential will be addressed by officials of DCNR’s Bureau of State Parks, the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, former owner of the 540-acre tract, and Wallace Roberts & Todd LLC, a private, Philadelphia-based design and planning firm contracted to draft the park’s master plan.

Those attending the Jan. 26 session will be asked two major questions:
“What would you like to see happen at Erie Bluffs State Park?”
“What concerns do you have about future development of Erie Bluffs?”

Bureau of State Parks Director Roger Fickes and other guest speakers will discuss a variety of topics, including how public involvement will help Erie Bluffs serve as a model for future state parks, natural resources fieldwork by the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy at the site, an overview of the master plan process; and the importance of public input.

The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy acquired the tract on Lake Erie’s shoreline in western Erie County from Reliant Energy in December 2003, using a $1.5 million grant from DCNR. The conservancy released the land to DCNR late last month.

The site is composed of several ecological zones, including relict sand dunes formed shortly after glaciation, wetlands fed by natural springs and seeps, a lake plain swamp forest, seep-ravines, creek ravines, and the bluff face itself.

In May and July 2004, more than 130 scientists, naturalists and volunteers across the state converged on Erie Bluffs State Park in a four-day, volunteer effort to identify as many plants and animals as possible in day and night field exercises. Popularly known in the scientific community as a “bioblitz,” the effort identified more than 1,200 species.

For more information on Erie Bluffs and Pennsylvania’s other 116 state parks, call 1-888-PA-PARKS from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday; or visit www.dcnr.state.pa.us (select “State Parks”).

Ice Dunes Advisory:
The Lake Erie shoreline can be an artistic sight in the winter as the ice forms; as beautiful as any artist's painting, however, they can be as deadly as anything Lake Erie can dish out. Wind and waves pounding the shoreline will build a mountainous range of ice dunes that are all to tempting to climb and explore. Local media warnings and signs at Presque Isle State Park do well to keep area residents informed to the risk of walking on these formations. Ice dunes are very unstable ice and most often hollow with open water inside. A fall through an ice dune can leave the victim trapped with little or no way out. Enjoy their beauty form the shore.

More on Ice Safety, No Ice is Safe Ice:

Wear a personal flotation device and don't fish alone.

Leave information about your plans with someone -- where you intend to fish and when you plan to return.

"Know before You Go." Know the conditions of the ice before venturing out; taking into consideration recent possible effects changes in the weather have had on the ice.

Children should ALWAYS be supervised on the ice.

Use an ice spud bar or an auger to test the ice ahead of you.

Before venturing out onto the ice, check with local sources, such as bait and tackle shops, for the most up-to-date information.

Avoid ice formed over flowing water near shore, around inlets and outlets of streams, or on lakes with springs.

Ice is generally strongest where it is hard and blue.

Heavy snow cover insulates ice and prevents it from freezing as evenly and as quickly as it would if the snow weren't there. Snow cover is also deceptive and makes evaluating the ice cover difficult.

Be especially wary of river or tributary ice, as it can be highly variable in thickness due to the erosive action of the underlying water current. One can be standing on ice eight-inches thick on a river and just a few feet away, the ice may be only two-inches thick.

Carry a couple of large nails, screwdrivers, or "grippers" and a length of light nylon rope. If you should go through the ice, the nails could help provide a "grip" on the slippery surface and aid in getting out.

Should you break through the ice, try not to panic. Typically drowning is not the as much a cause of fear as is hypothermia which can occur in minutes. Once out, remember to turn toward the direction you came from, toward the ice that supported you. Use the nails or screwdrivers or your hands to gain a hold on the unbroken surface of the ice, and advance by kicking your feet.

Once you are out of the water and are lying on the ice, don't stand! Roll away from the point where you broke through until you are on solid ice.

If you do see someone fall through the ice, do not run toward them. Carefully extend a rope, ladder, pole or line to the victim.

Local Weather Forecast:
Wednesday night
Mostly cloudy. Colder with lows 5 to 10 above. North winds 10 to 15 mph. Wind chill values around 5 below.
Partly cloudy. Highs near 15. North winds around 10 mph. Wind chill values around 5 below.
Thursday night
Mostly clear. Lows near zero. Light and variable winds. Wind chill values around 10 below.
Mostly sunny. Highs in the mid 20s.
Friday night
Mostly clear. Lows 10 to 15.
Partly cloudy. Highs in the lower 30s.
Saturday night
Mostly cloudy. Lows in the lower 20s.
Mostly cloudy with a chance of rain and snow. Highs in the upper 30s. Chance of precipitation 30 percent.
Sunday night
Mostly cloudy with a chance of rain through the night. A chance of snow in the evening. Lows in the upper 20s. Chance of precipitation 30 percent.
Mostly cloudy with a chance of rain and snow. Highs in the upper 30s. Chance of precipitation 30 percent.
Monday night
Mostly cloudy. Lows in the upper 20s.
Mostly cloudy with a chance of rain and snow. Highs in the upper 30s. Chance of precipitation 30 percent.

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