Sunday, March 27, 2011

Remnants of the Past

Remains of a beaver lodge

Nestled between two mountains the Meadow Grounds Lake is the only public lake in rural Fulton County Pennsylvania.  Built in the 1960's by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission on State Game lands #53 the 204 acre lake provides a place for those interested in an outdoor experience.  A hiking trail at the south end of the lake will take one to the scenic falls on Roaring Run.  Not an easy walk by any means but one well worth the trip.  The Meadow Grounds also attracts a number of waterfowl species during their spring migration as the birds stop here to rest and feed.  The lake was drawn down last fall in preparation for dam repairs scheduled for this spring.  The draw-down exposed areas that normally are submerged and in doing so exposed this area of branch littered shoreline which brought back memories from a time decades ago.

Back in the early 1980's I began fishing this lake using a small 12' Jon boat.  I didn't have a truck at the time so I transported the boat strapped to the top of my car. Not being able to afford an electric motor I made do with a set of oars as my sole source of propulsion.  At the time the lake was inhabited by a considerable population of beavers and it was always a pleasure to see one's head at the front of a V shaped wake.  Sometimes one would surface beside the boat giving a closeup view and other times they would startle me with a loud tail slap as they submerged in alarm at my presence.  Not only did the beavers add considerably to the outdoor experience but by building their lodges and storing branches underwater they provided structure which in turn improved the shoreline habitat for fish. 

In the late 1970's a young Mark Crowder was assigned to Fulton County as District Game Protector.  Mark is a man who not only hunts and traps but is also a man who hold a deep appreciation for the wild places and it's creatures.  As Game Protector he was sometimes called upon to deal with problem beavers, an assignment which usually is dealt with by killing the offending animals.  Realizing that there was a better way Mark began live trapping the animals and relocating them to the lake.  The lake is located in the midst of over 5,000 acres of Game Lands so here the beavers could make a home.  With the permission of the regional law enforcement supervisor he posted the lake prohibiting beaver trapping and thus created a spot where beavers could exist doing what beavers do without causing any harm by damming culverts, flooding roadways, or cutting any private landowners valuable trees.  In short it was a win win situation even to the extent of providing trapping opportunities for those beavers straying into the stream above or below the lake.

With the retirement of the LES came a replacement and with him came the decision that the lake could not be posted against beaver trapping.  State game lands are purchased and maintained by monies derived from the hunters and trappers and as such are open during any appropriate hunting or trapping season so the signs came down, the beavers were wiped out and only the remnants of their submerged cache and the memories of the good times when anyone could enjoy these unique animals at this tiny mountain lake remain. 

And this was done by a state agency in the name of Wildlife Conservation.


Montanagirl said...

Informative post with a sad ending.

Peggy said...


Willard said...

It is very sad!