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Readers' Views: We must save our troubled river

Posted 1/29/13

Editor,

I am president of the Highspire Boating Association. The reason for this letter is the ongoing crises of our beloved Susquehanna River and its tributaries – its obvious decline as a bass fishery, and in river level fluctuations, …

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Readers' Views: We must save our troubled river

Posted

Editor,

I am president of the Highspire Boating Association. The reason for this letter is the ongoing crises of our beloved Susquehanna River and its tributaries – its obvious decline as a bass fishery, and in river level fluctuations, pollution, invasive species, algae blooms, rock snot and access, to name a few of the more common issues.

For many years we have enjoyed a beautiful, clean, healthy river with all its attributes – from drinking water, prime bass fishing, boating opportunities and wildlife observation to hunting. Sadly, some or all of these are now endangered.

From my youthful days on the river until now, I am saddened at what it has become. In my youth (1960s) it was common to have raw sewage discharged into the water. Floating scum and an oil slick were commonplace. We also had river grasses, rock bass and sunfish, and no invasive species that I can recall. Then things got better. Or did they?

We no longer have raw sewage discharge into the river, and floating scum and oil slicks are gone. Gone also are the river grasses, replaced by rock snot and algae blooms. There are no rock bass or sunfish, but an infusion of invasive species: rusty crayfish, flathead catfish, snakeheads, zebra mussels, etc. We now have dissolved oxygen levels, unidentified pollutants, medicinal waste and bi-sexed bass.

Where have we gone wrong? Who is to blame? Me? You? The state Department of Environmental Protection?
Anyone? The river needs our help, and the majority of us are just watching it flow by and become worse.

In the last 10 years, the Susquehanna has been downgraded from a premier bass fishery to a “I don’t go there anymore” place.

My organization wants to do more. Our club is paying a price for the decline in the river’s status – reduced membership, water fluctuations that prevent predictable boating and fishing activities, storm runoff, sediment accumulation and all the other aforementioned issues. We appeal to all outdoor enthusiasts and clubs and organizations to band together to help curtail the decline of our river.

We have compiled a list of questions on our website (www.Highspireboatclub.com) that we would like to ask you – and ask that you, in turn, ask your friends, neighbors and fellow boat club members. I hope that when you answer these questions you can see we have a problem and want to get involved.

We are asking for feedback, either through mail or our website. Our intent is to use your answers to direct our energies.

By joining with other higher tier organizations, we will accumulate strength in numbers. Having this strength will hopefully enable us to get to the source of the problem(s) and identify and hold accountable those responsible. By joining together we can have enough clout to demand the DEP and the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, and any others, act upon the river’s decline by declaring it an impaired river.

This is the first step in recovery. Without the government behind us, recognizing the problems, we cannot get to the answers. Please take the time to answer these questions at www.Highspireboatclub.com and forward your answers to us via mail or our website.

We thank you, and untold others yet to be born thank you.

                                             Myles Blazi
                                             Highspire

(The writer is president of the Highspire Boating Association.)