Colyer Lake supporters searching for funds to fix deficient dam, save lake

Standing near Colyer Lake on Sunday, bird watcher Jim Miller spotted osprey, a heron and several ducks.

Miller, of State College, said if the lake is drained all those birds that eat the fish will be gone, and it will take decades for the nature to recover.

“It will take a lifetime to restock this place as a nature center and in the meantime it will be a mud hole if you’re lucky and a dust bin if you’re not,” he said.

About 60 people gathered near the lake Sunday for an informational session organized by Centre County President Judge Thomas King Kistler about the possibility that the lake will be drained.

Last month, the state Fish and Boat Commission announced that the lake would have to be drained because of a structurally deficient dam — a fix that comes with an unfunded $6 million price tag.

Kistler, who has property on the lake, said he met with the commission last week and will continue to meet with members to try and find a solution to the problem. He said he hopes to convince them not to completely drain the lake while he and other supporters search for funding to fix the dam.

Conceding that it’s a flood risk, Kistler believes that the lake’s about 50 percent water level is not much more of a risk than if the lake had no water.

And he wants the place he visits 3-4 times per week to stay usable for his family and other lake aficionados.

“I’m very optimistic,” Kistler said of the chances the lake can be salvaged. “This is a vital part of Centre County recreation.”

He will do that with a “two-pronged approach,” starting a nonprofit foundation to raise money and seeking out grants from the state.

Kistler has another meeting with the commission scheduled and will begin looking into grant possibilities soon.