Minsi Lake Responsibilities

Minsi Lake Projects: Who’s Responsible for What?

With a number of players involved in a number of projects at the same place, it can be confusing over who’s responsible for what.

PA Fish & Boat Commission (PFBC) has owned the land and waters at Minsi Lake since 1963. By 1970, PFBC built Minsi Lake for public fishing and boating. To this day, PFBC owns the 117-acre lake and its dam, spillway and outlet structure; all of which the agency alone operates and manages on behalf of the Commonwealth of PA. As we all know, the lake was drained last year for a dam rehabilitation and spillway reconstruction project. As the property owner, PFBC—in cooperation with the PA Department of General Services, which provides operations support for all state agencies—is responsible for this project. Neither Friends of Minsi Lake nor any of our partner organizations—including Northampton County Parks & Recreation Division—has any influence, authority, control, power, command or sway over any aspect of the Minsi Lake Dam Rehabilitation Project. For questions about this project, we suggest you call the public telephone number for PFBC Headquarters in Harrisburg at (717)705-7800.

Northampton County Parks & Recreation Division (NorCo Parks) has leased from PFBC, 194 acres of land surrounding Minsi Lake as part of its County Parks System since 1975. As PFBC’s tenant and per the terms of its lease with the agency, NorCo Parks is responsible for routine maintenance, like mowing grass, collecting trash and removing fallen timber from recreation areas, trails and parking lots around the lake. The lease specifically prohibits NorCo Parks from having any jurisdiction or control over the lake, its dam, spillway or outlet structure. That authority, per the lease, rests wholly with PFBC. With the total drawdown of Minsi Lake last year, NorCo Parks entered into a Cooperative Habitat Improvement Project agreement with its landlord, PFBC, to assist the agency in improving fish habitat on the empty lakebed. Per that agreement, NorCo Parks was responsible for organizing a friends group to help raise funds to cover material costs for building fish habitat structures at the lake. Friends of Minsi Lake was established last year. In turn, PFBC developed a Fish Habitat Improvement Plan for the lake last July, and will provide all the heavy equipment and operators to build the structures on the lakebed, when the time comes. Furthermore, NorCo Parks developed a Site Improvement Study for Minsi Lake last September, and Northampton County Council approved $500,000 early this year to be used as matching monies for grants to help fund recreational improvements at the lake, after PFBC completes its dam rehab project. For questions about the habitat and recreational improvements projects at Minsi Lake, call Jim Wilson, NorCo Parks Recreation Specialist at (610)829-6404 or send email to jwilson@northamptoncounty.org.

Friends of Minsi Lake (FOML) was established last year as a cooperative partnership between NorCo Parks and Northampton County Junior Conservation School in an effort to chart the course and provide resources needed to enhance the natural and recreational assets at Minsi Lake and throughout the Minsi Lake Greenway. FOML includes representatives from the public and 12 conservation, recreation and government organizations. Our first order of business is to work with PFBC to raise over $100,000 to buy enough materials to build 860 small and large-scale fish and turtle habitat structures, as called for in PFBC’s Minsi Lake Habitat Improvement Plan. To date, FOML has raised nearly $45,000 to that end. FOML just recently purchased lumber to build ten turtle basking platforms, which it will construct on June 16, with youth from the Delaware River Shad Fishermen’s Association. These platforms will be stored with NorCo Parks until PFBC’s dam rehabilitation project is completed and the lake is refilled, after which time the platforms will be placed in the lake for turtle basking habitat. FOML has been actively raising public awareness and funds for the fish and turtle habitat project and in cooperation with PFBC, has set early spring 2019 as the time that the large-scale fish habitat structures will be constructed on the empty Minsi Lake basin—640 rock and timber habitat structures built over the course of about a week. Right now, FOML is working on a project to realign the Lake Trail as close to Minsi Lake as possible for better lake view enjoyment, while protecting lakeside habitat. After the lake habitat and trail projects are completed, we will work hard with Northampton County to raise monies and improve recreational facilities and infrastructure at Minsi Lake, including accessible facilities for everyone, like fishing piers, kayak launches, picnic tables, grills, restrooms, trails and more. For questions or more information about FOML, call (610)829-6404 or send email to jwilson@northamptoncounty.org.