On Centre: Around Bellefonte | Spring Creek Day offers an environmental education event

July 2, 2013 

Tyler Neimond, of the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, speaks to group at Fisherman’s Paradise.

PHOTO PROVIDED

Surrounded by beautiful paintings of water and nature, John Arway was in a perfect location for his discussion of trout fishing, cleaning and preservation of the streams, and the future of conservation.

Arway, executive director of Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, gave a PowerPoint presentation Saturday morning at the Bellefonte Art Museum for Centre County. The museum is in the midst of its exhibition “Water Ways: Paintings by Alice Kelsey and Jeanne McKinney,” which made for a perfect backdrop for the environmental education series.

Arway emphasized the local economic value of Spring Creek. He said the fishing attraction accounts for $1.2 to $2.5 million annually.

And the stream has seen a shift over the decades.

“Brown trout have largely replaced the brook trout that were native to Spring Creek,” Arway said.

In the 1870s, there was excellent brook trout fishing along Spring Creek, Arway said. But a 1915 letter by famous angler Theo Gordon shows that brown trout had taken possession of the stream.

Chemical pollution hurt the stream in the 1950s, and no trout taken from Spring Creek were safe to eat for many years. The stream continues to have a “no kill” status, but one time about 70 percent of the fish caught were eaten, Arway said.

“Today there is a 70 percent catch-and-release, and on average, each trout is caught five to six times a year,” said Arway, who said the statistics are good news for someone who comes to the creek hoping to catch a fish.

Following the talk, the attendees were invited to Fisherman’s Paradise, where Tyler Neimond talked about Spring Creek habitat improvement, Steve Kepler discussed aquatic invertebrates, and Mark Hartle and Tom Kulakowski spoke about water quality issues. Gerald Barton gave a brief history of the Stackhouse Training Facility and an overview of Spring Creek Canyon.

All of the speakers were Fish and Boat Commission staff.

A hike on their own through the canyon would just “make the day” one couple remarked as they headed out to follow the creek on a beautiful summer afternoon in Centre County.

The conservation celebration will continue at the Bellefonte Art Museum from 1 to 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, with displays in the Community Room by many local groups. Local historian Bob Hazelton will give a presentation at 2 p.m. about the history of the Spring Creek canyon.

A children’s watershed program will be offered on the half hour throughout afternoon.

5K supports Africa mission

Bellefonte’s St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church will hold its third annual family 5K on Saturday, July 20.

Pre-registration is preferred, but the committee will accept registrants between 7:30 a.m. and 8:15 a.m. the morning of the walk/run.

The 5K will start at 8:30 a.m. from Lambert Hall and end there, with a pancake breakfast to follow for participants.

The money raised is to be donated to Father Ralph Mensa, who visits annually, and is building a Catholic school in Beyin, Ghana, in Africa.

To date, $4,500 has been raised and school supplies have been donated. A teacher’s salary there is $500 per year.

Angela Basalla and her husband, Patrick, have been organizing the walk each year.

“It is important that people know what our church is doing for other communities,” Basalla said.

Connie Cousins writes a column about the Bellefonte area. Send her news at ccous67@gmail.com.

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