Muncy river access partially re-opened

Although the long-closed river access in Muncy will remain inaccessible to boats, the state Fish and Boat Commission announced Wednesday that it will re-open a portion of it for non-boating recreation.

A public meeting hosted by state Rep. Garth Everett, R-Muncy, on Feb. 1 showed the commission that people use the access for more than just launching canoes, kayaks and other boats.

“People use the access for other resources,” said Eric Levis, communications director for the commission. “It is a reasonably sized parking area. Whether they relax, sit there and watch the river or walk around, they just wanted to be able to use that facility for some other things.”

Since it was closed in July of 2016, the access has been completely cordoned off with barriers at the top of the road. The barrier will be removed and vehicles will be able to get down there, but the boat ramp still will be blocked off, Levis said.

“While we cannot reopen the boat launch because of safety issues, we decided we could reopen the property for other uses,” said the commission’s Executive Director John Arway. The barriers are expected to be moved within the next two weeks.

The commission closed the Muncy access in July of 2016 due to unsafe water conditions created by sediment buildup. The access at Railroad Street has seen the problem for years, according to Levis at the time the commission closed the access.

As the water level rises, people are able to use the launch, but the problem starts when the water level drops and a sandbar surfaces.

“The Muncy boat launch has been regularly plagued by a sandbar just offshore due to sediment deposits from the outflow of Muncy Creek just upstream of this launch area,” the commission’s release said. “As the water level decreases, canoe and kayak users are forced to wade through the sediment and over the sandbar to access the river. The sediment can become several feet deep, posing a threat to individuals who may find their feet stuck.”

Just before it was closed in 2016, a woman attempting to wade to shore with her kayak was stuck in the sediment and had to be rescued by other paddlers.

Since the access was closed, many who use it have expressed concern about where they’d be able to access the West Branch of the Susquehanna River east of Williamsport. Both Everett’s office and the commission said they are continuing to search for another access.

“While I appreciate the commission coming to Muncy to meet with the public and its decision to allow access to the launch area for non-boating purposes, it is my intent to continue to work towards a solution that allows for the reopening of the current location until funding can be identified to relocate the launch,” Everett said.

The commission is looking for land to build a new access area, Levis said.

Arway said the project will begin once funding is secured and that property is found.

“We need either the General Assembly to approve a license fee increase or the governor to release the $750,000 allocated for the project in the capital budget,” he said. “We encourage the local community to work with Rep. Everett to help secure one of these options.”