HAWLEY - At its quarterly business meeting May 6, the state Fish and Boat Commission authorized the acquisition of an access area in Crawford County; proposed a regulation change to reduce a no-wake zone in Northumberland County; proposed a regulation change to improve boating safety; and finalized a regulation that places restrictions on the sale and use of live crayfish.
Commissioners agreed to pay $65,000 for about 4,960 linear feet of access on Conneaut Creek as it flows across two parcels of property in Spring Township, Crawford County. The easement will be used for public fishing, boating and riparian and fishery management.
The seller also agreed to grant the commission easements for parking and a footpath to provide access to Conneaut Creek. The easement area is just west of Route 18 along Tower Road near Conneautville.
On the Susquehanna River near Sunbury in Northumberland County, commissioners proposed reducing the slow, no-wake zone near the Shikellamy State Park boat launch on the south side of Packer's Island as a way to improve boating in the area.
The no-wake zone currently extends 1/3-mile, or 1,742 feet, upstream from the state park boat launch.
The proposed change would reduce it to 200 feet above the Route 147 bridge.
"The lengthy nature of this control zone results in boater confusion and unnecessarily inhibits use of a significant segment of the boating pool in this area," said Laurel Anders, Director of the commission's Bureau of Boating and Outreach. "The shortened control zone still provides important protection to boaters and shoreline property in the vicinity of the state park boat launch and around the bridge piers."
Anders said a meeting will be held in the area to gather public comments about the proposal. A date and time for the meeting has not yet been scheduled.
Commissioners also approved the publication of a notice of proposed rulemaking that would make boating safer by prohibiting the use of hydro-flying devices. These devices use pressurized water through jet ports to provide lift and to allow an operator to become airborne at speeds up to 30 mph.
Some devices attach to a boat, which may or may not be occupied, while others connect to a power source which floats in the water.
Public comments on both proposals will be accepted for 30 days after the notices are published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.
Comments may be submitted to the commission through its website, fishandboat.com/ reg398.htm.
If adopted on final rulemaking, changes to both proposals would take effect on Jan. 1, 2015.
Also, commissioners approved a regulation change that restricts the sale, possession, introduction, transportation and importation of all live crayfish in Pennsylvania.
Under the amended regulation, licensed anglers are permitted to harvest up to 50 crayfish per day. When crayfish are transported away from the water from which they were collected, the head must be removed behind the eyes.
When crayfish are used as bait in the water from which they were taken, the crayfish can remain intact.
The regulation does not apply when crayfish are used for testing and scientific purposes or for restaurant consumption, provided adequate measures have been taken to prevent their escape and documentation states the point of origin and the destination where they are to be delivered.
The change takes effect on Jan. 1, 2015.
"The replacement of native crayfish by introduced crayfish - like the invasive rusty crayfish - represents a significant threat to aquatic communities," said Dave Lieb, invertebrate zoologist and non-game biologist with the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy.
"Exotic crayfish populations grow quickly and have negative effects on amphibians, mussels and fishes," he added. "Stringent regulations will help prevent additional introductions of invasive crayfish."
In other action, commissioners:
Among the list of 18 new waters of wild trout streams are Reibsan Run in Lycoming County, the West Branch of the Susquehanna River in Northumberland County and Smith Cabin Run in Sullivan County.
The full list can be found on the commission website.
Added four stream sections in Carbon, Centre, Clinton and Mifflin counties to the list of Class A wild trout streams.
In Clinton County, a 3.90-mile section of Dry Run now is on the Class A list. It is a tributary to the West Branch of the Susquehanna River.
The rest of the list can be found on the agency website.
The action implements recommendations from the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Committee, which concluded that the American eel population is depleted in U.S. waters and that the species needs more protection.
The commission is a member of fisheries committee.
The change takes effect upon publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.
A complete copy of the meeting schedule and the full agenda for the meeting can be found on the commission's website at www.fishandboat.com/minutes.htm.